Draft Strategies | Depth Charts | Mock Drafts | SOS | Tools | ADP
Diehards Staff Experts Poll | Draft Simulator | University Videos
Team Notes week 5 2022
NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. ... Even the Bears. There is no better way to jump start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...
Access specific teams by clicking on a team name in the schedule appearing directly to your left or by clicking on a helmet below; return to the helmets by hitting the link labeled "Menu" following each teams notes. ...
Arizona CardinalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Kyler Murray can't explain why the Arizona Cardinals continue to start games slowly.
He's just glad they managed a strong finish on Sunday.
Murray threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns and added another score on the ground as the Cardinals overcame another lackluster first half, rallying with 16 fourth-quarter points to beat the Panthers 26-16.
Arizona (2-2) has been outscored 66-16 in the first half this season.
"It can't last forever," Murray said. "I'm confident we can figure it out. It's just about us being better."
Marquise Brown caught a 23-yard touchdown, Zach Ertz hauled in a 2-yard TD catch and Murray ran for a 4-yard score as the Cardinals held a 17-minute advantage in time of possession and beat the Panthers for the first time in the last seven meetings.
After trailing 10-3 at half, the Cardinals took their first lead in regulation this season on Matt Prater's 39-yard field goal with 11:22 remaining in the game.
Carolina's only touchdown in the first 55 minutes of the game came when Frankie Luvu intercepted Murray's pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to give Carolina a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
But Arizona's defense kept the Panthers' running game in check, holding Christian McCaffrey to 27 yards rushing on eight carries.
"Our defense played their tails off and kept us in it the first half," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "The offense was struggling once again. I thought in the second half, it all came together and played at a high level."
Still, it was yet another week of a slow start and a fast finish.
Fortunately for Arizona, the Panthers weren't good enough to take advantage of it.
As ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss put it: "When the Cardinals' offense finds its rhythm and tempo, it's tough to beat."
Weinfuss went on to explain, "Murray is as dynamic of a player as there is in the NFL. Ertz can do nearly anything Arizona needs. Brown is the perfect marriage of great hands and speed. But the problem this season is it takes too long for the Cardinals to find that rhythm and tempo -- and even when they do, they're too inconsistent."
The slow starts remain concerning for head Kingsbury and company.
"Been just anemic," Kingsbury said in his postgame press conference. "It's all of us. Coaches and players. We got to figure it out, the recipe. We got an offensive pass interference on an RPO, which I've never seen. It's just strange things are happening. We just got to find a way to settle in early and call better plays. And execute at a higher level."
Kingsbury said he hopes the team's finish -- scoring 23 points in the second half, including 16 in the fourth quarter -- will carry over to Week 5.
"We were able to stick to our game plan. We all set out as a staff saying, 'Hey, we're not going to get out of whack. We're not going to do all 11 personnel [and] two minute. We're going to stick to our game plan.' Then that's what works.
"Hopefully, we can get going. I know the stat is we win a bunch of games when we rush 30-plus times. We don't when we don't. We've got to find a way to try and get those rushes when we can. Fortunately, we were able to stay in the game plan. Not get too far behind because our defense played so well that we could stick to our guns and find a way to win."
If the Cardinals get off to another slow start this week, the result may not be as satisfactory. The 4-0 Eagles are headed West to take on Arizona in the desert.
Other notes of interest. ... Darren Urban of the team's official website notes that James Conner didn't have a great statistical game -- 55 yards on 13 carries -- but again, when the Cardinals get a lead, he wears down defenses and the clock late. After the Panthers cut it to 10 late, Conner carried five straight times to generate two first downs and allow Murray kneels to bleed the end of the clock. Conner also had one nasty straight-arm on Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn.
Those kneels accounted for three of Murray's 12 official rushing attempts, but the Cardinals are now 12-1 when he rushes at least nine times. His stats weren't awesome -- 29 yards on nine non-kneels -- but he scored and the Panthers had to worry about him the whole time.
There were two failed fourth-down tries for the Cardinals, both needing one yard. One, Rondale Moore was used on a jet sweep that didn't fool the Panthers at all -- "I tried to get too fancy," Kingsbury admitted -- and on the second, center Rodney Hudson airmailed a snap that Murray couldn't corral.
Moore's return featured one deep shot (he caught the ball but was clearly out of bounds) but also a bunch of horizontal quick passes, like last season. His usage will be something to watch. Hollywood Brown, though, has made some fantastic grabs under pressure. He's looked great the last two games.
Greg Dortch caught just one pass for 6 yards on and it looks like his role will decrease in the coming weeks now that Moore is healthy and others like Antoine Wesley are eligible to come back from injured reserve.
Trey McBride had his first three NFL catches and had more snaps (32) than Maxx Williams (23).
On the injury front. ... Prater did not attempt an extra point late in the game because of a hip injury. With Prater hurting, running back Eno Benjamin had to kick off a couple of times in the fourth quarter.
Kingsbury said on Wednesday that Prater will not play this weekend.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that Arizona plans to sign Matt Ammendola to their practice squad. Ammendola kicked for the Chiefs in Weeks 2 and 3, but was cut by Kansas City last week.
Ammendola was 3-of-4 on field goals and 3-of-4 on extra points with the Chiefs. He was 13-of-19 on field goals and 14-of-15 on extra points in 11 games for the Jets last season.
Meanwhile, A.J. Green missed Sunday's game with a knee injury that seems likely to keep him out more than just one game. That said, Kingsbury told reporters on Wednesday he is hopeful the veteran wideout returns this week.
I'll have more on Green via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
As noted above. ... The Cardinals may be getting some players back off of injured reserve soon. ... The team announced on Monday that backup quarterback Colt McCoy and Wesley had their practice window opened as they return from injured reserve.
Both players have been on IR for four weeks. They now have 21 days to practice with the team before they must be placed on the 53-man roster or will revert to injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Notably, McCoy started three games for the Cardinals last season, going 2-1. In eight games, the veteran backup completed 75 percent of his passes for 740 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. ...
The Cardinals are finally moving on from a player they struggled to find a role for, as the team announced Tuesday that it had released wide receiver Andy Isabella. In a corresponding move, the Cardinals signed center Billy Price, who was a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2018.
Isabella was a player Kingsbury clearly targeted in the 2019 NFL Draft, as the UMass product was selected in the second round with the No. 62 overall pick. He was selected over future NFL stars such as DK Metcalf, Diontae Johnson and Terry McLaurin, but his opportunities at the next level were limited.
Isabella caught just nine passes for 189 yards and one touchdown in his rookie season. He caught 21 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns in his second NFL season, but his playing time dwindled in 2021 -- as he caught just one pass all year. This offseason, Isabella was granted permission to seek a trade.
No trade partner ever materialized for Isabella, and now, he will have a chance to start over somewhere else. This season, Isabella has caught two passes for 21 yards. ...
A few final items. ... J.J. Watt played his best game of the season against the Panthers -- but it had been hard for Watt, who a few days earlier admitted he had been "scared" when his heart needed to be shocked back into rhythm.
It had been a private situation until Watt heard it wasn't, a leak meaning it was going to be reported to the nation before the morning NFL games.
So Watt tweeted the information himself a few hours before kickoff. And he was quietly fuming afterward.
"The only people that knew were people I should trust," Watt said. "Injuries, I don't care. If you leak injuries I don't care. It's football. This one, this one was very emotional for me. So it upset me."
The veteran defensive end was listed on the injury report this week with his calf issue, but "illness" was added to the designation on Thursday. Watt missed both Wednesday and Thursday practices.
He was back at practice Friday and worked on a limited basis.
Watt tweeted that he "went into A-Fib" and had to have his heart shocked. A-Fib -- Atrial fibrillation -- is defined as a "an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart," according to the Mayo Clinic. It can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Watt had missed the first game of the year with his calf injury but played in the last three games. He has two sacks this season to lead the team.
"I talked to cardiologists, electrophysiologists, from all over the country, and I was assured multiple times there was nothing else I could do and I could go and play like normal. It could happen again the next day, it could happen never again or in 20 years."
Watt said he did consider not playing Sunday.
"I didn't know what else to do," Watt said. "They said I was fine. I'd probably be more uncomfortable sitting on my couch at home. This is what I know. Right or wrong, Maybe that's messed up."
Finally. ... Right guard Will Hernandez was ejected in the fourth quarter for pushing an official in the back following a dust-up between the two teams. Hernandez won't be suspended, but the incident will be reviewed for a possible fine, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. ...
You can access complete stats for the Cardinals Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Dobbs, Clayton Tune, Kyler Murray
RBs: James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Emari Demercado
WRs: Marquise Brown, Zach Pascal, Rondale Moore, Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch
TEs: Zach Ertz, Trey McBride, Geoff Swaim
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
The Atlanta Falcons must find a new starting running back after placing Cordarrelle Patterson on injured reserve on Monday with a knee injury.
Head coach Arthur Smith said Patterson had a minor knee procedure.
Patterson will miss at least four games, leaving rookie Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley as the top healthy running backs for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay.
Huntley, called up from the practice squad on Saturday, was signed to the 53-man roster on Monday. Huntley had 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown in Atlanta's 23-20 win over Cleveland on Sunday.
Allgeier led the Falcons with 84 yards rushing on 10 carries against the Browns. Patterson had nine carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Entering the weekend, Patterson ranked third in the NFL in rushing after setting career highs in two of the Falcons' first three games. He ran for 141 yards in a 27-23 win at Seattle on Sept. 25.
Patterson has rushed for 340 yards with three touchdowns through four games. The former wide receiver has four catches for 28 yards.
According to Ashton Edmunds of the team's official website, following Sunday's win, Smith said that he always thought the team that ran better was going to win.
And so, the run plays kept coming. Again and again, the same thing.
Run, run, run, run -- 14 straight times during the second half.
According to ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, each time, right tackle Kaleb McGary got a little excited.
To him, every run play called by coach Arthur Smith is like "a gift." When the runs are called over his side, like they often were Sunday, it's an added jolt of excitement.
When the Falcons ran 35 times -- 25 of them in the second half -- it was like hitting on the carnival ring toss game so many times in a row you take home the largest stuffed animal possible.
"That was a couple years' worth of Christmas, maybe," McGary said. "That's what we were wanting. We were hoping and praying. Give us a chance. Let us run the ball. Just give us a chance."
In the end, the Falcons outran a run-heavy Browns team 202 yards to 177 yards.
"We all just strapped up our helmets and just went to work," Allgeier said after the game. "I think their defensive line wasn't ready for what we were ready to give them, so we ended up just pounding the rock at the end."
With Patterson and Damien Williams now on IR, expecting Huntley and Allgeier to continue serving as the leaders of this offense seems reasonable.
The Falcons rushing attack has been one of the NFL's best so far -- twice over 200 yards and fourth in the league with 672 yards after Sunday.
Those 14 straight runs made a statement in Smith's mind.
Atlanta will run the ball, and it's not going to be an easy group to stop. Not after Sunday, when the Falcons showed they are more than just Patterson in the backfield.
"When the line is running like that, that's what you call being in the flow," Smith said. "Proud of those guys. We knew it was going to be a big-boy fight. Seeing all the run attempts and I always thought the team that ran the ball better today was going to win. That held true, thankfully."
It's something to clearly build on. The Falcons want to have a physical philosophy. They want to be a difficult team to play. It showed that with Patterson the first three weeks of the year. But the Falcons displayed their run game has a lot more than Patterson to turn to.
Meanwhile, it's worth noting the Falcons were 7-2 in one-possession games last year. One-score games are not the easiest way to live in the NFL, but with a team in transition, the Falcons are .500 with a two-game winning streak in such games in 2022. It's still a young team, but after wins over the Seahawks and Browns with a similar style - balanced rushing and passing with aggressive defense when it matters - perhaps Atlanta's young team is figuring things out.
That said, going up against a tough Buccaneers run defense in Tampa this weekend will be a true test of this approach. ...
Other notes of interest. ... With the running game delivering the goods, there wasn't much fantasy meat on the passing bone.
Marcus Mariota struggled, completing just seven passes in the game.
"Sometimes it's not going to be pretty," Mariota told reporters after the game. "We're going to do whatever we can to win these games and give our guys credit, we found ways to make plays."
Well, sort of. ... Mariota produced his worst individual performance of the season. He completed 7 of 19 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Mariota did come up with a big play during the Falcons' drive that resulted in the go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter. Mariota, escaping pressure from up the middle and sliding to his left, threw a pass off one leg and found wide-open receiver Olamide Zacchaeus for a 42-yard gain.
Meanwhile, Kyle Pitts caught one of four targets for 25 yards.
As FantasyLife.com’s Dwain McFarland put it, "Smith hates Pitts and your fantasy team."
Pitts played a season-low 62 percent of the team's offensive snaps, but he still finished second on the team in targets behind Drake London (two catches on seven targets for 17 yards).
Regardless, the second-year tight end's production was certainly disappointing after he caught five of eight targets for 87 yards -- all season highs -- during the team's Week 3 win over the Seahawks. Through four games, Pitts has caught 10 of 22 targets for 150 yards, and he's still only secured one touchdown across 21 career games.
Of concern to McFarland, however, is Pitts' route participation numbers.
In Week 1, Pitts ran a route on 72 percent of his snaps; Week 2 it was 91 percent; Week 3 the number dropped to 68 percent; and against the Browns it was a season-low 60 percent.
For context, McFarland notes the historically speaking, great tight ends get 80 percent-plus route participation.
If you're looking for positives, Sunday's 24 percent target share is one.
Still, when it comes to figuring out your strategy with Pitts going forward, McFarland contends "the only viable move is to hold and pray. ..."
Adding to the concerns this week, Pitts was not on the field for the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to media.
We later learned it was a hamstring injury that kept Pitts off the field, but I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update as needed. ...
You can access complete stats for the Falcons Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside
RBs: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Ogbonnaya
WRs: Drake London, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge, Scott Miller, Jared Bernhardt, Josh Ali
TEs: Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Running and passing with a sense of urgency, Lamar Jackson deftly moved the Baltimore Ravens from one end of the field to the other in the fourth quarter of a tie game against the Buffalo Bills.
And then, with Baltimore facing a fourth-and-goal at the Buffalo 2 with just over four minutes left, it came time to make a decision. Go for the touchdown, or let the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history do his thing?
Head coach John Harbaugh left his offense on the field. It was a gutsy call, and one he would ultimately regret.
Jackson was pressured in the pocket soon after taking the snap and ended up throwing an interception in the end zone -- one that crucially resulted in a touchback. The Bills promptly went the other way and completed their rally from a 17-point deficit by kicking a field goal as time expired for a 23-20 victory Sunday.
Two weeks earlier, Harbaugh called upon Justin Tucker to kick a field goal late in a home game against Miami. Tucker delivered, but the Dolphins subsequently drove for the winning touchdown in a 42-38 comeback victory.
This time, Harbaugh went for it all. And got nothing.
"I thought like it gave us the best chance to win the game," he said. "It didn't turn out that way and unfortunately, and we lost the game. Hindsight, you take the points. But you look at it analytically, you'll understand why we did it."
And when you look at how the Ravens have played this year -- frittering away a 21-point lead against the Dolphins and a 20-3 advantage against the Bills -- and you'll understand why they're 2-2.
For what it's worth, Harbaugh downplayed the emotional sideline outburst with cornerback Marcus Peters that ensued after the failed touchdown.
"I felt like it gave us the best chance to win the game because seven [points], the worst that happens is if they go down the field and score -- and I think we'll get them stopped -- but if they go down the field and score a touchdown, the worst thing that can happen is you're in overtime," Harbaugh said.
While every player who spoke afterward supported Harbaugh's decision, Peters showed his displeasure by shouting at him on the sideline as the Bills lined up for the winning field goal. After the two exchanged words, Peters had to be pulled away by an assistant coach, and he threw his helmet in frustration. Peters had left the locker room by the time reporters entered.
"Emotions run high," Harbaugh said. "We're on the same page, he and I. We have a great relationship; we have an honest relationship. I love him, I hope he still loves me; we'll see. I'm a Marcus Peters guy."
According to ESPN's win probability model, the Ravens had a 73.5 percent win probability by going for the touchdown and a 69.7 percent win probability by kicking a field goal.
"I was fine with it because, if we had executed that, we would have scored a touchdown and there would be no question," Jackson said. "Nobody would be disappointed. Next time, we'll get it."
On that fourth down, Jackson didn't see wide receiver Devin Duvernay, who was so wide-open in the right corner of the end zone that he was waving his arms.
Asked what he saw on that play, Jackson said, "Tall defensive lineman with his hands up. I was trying to see around him to see where my guys were, but I saw Duvernay late. If I would have seen him right off the bat, that would have been a touchdown."
This marked Jackson's first career interception on fourth down (out of 25 pass attempts).
The Ravens became the second team in NFL history to suffer multiple losses after leading by 17 or more points in their first four games of a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. The other team was the 2011 Vikings.
In Week 2, the Ravens lost to the Miami Dolphins, 42-38, after leading by 21 points in the fourth quarter. Two weeks later, Baltimore fell to the Bills after holding a 17-point lead late in the second quarter.
The Ravens (2-2) are confident they will rebound from two of the biggest second-half meltdowns in franchise history.
"I'm a dog. We have a bunch of dogs," tight end Mark Andrews said. "We're ready to go. We are going to get better. We've been here before."
Next up, the Ravens will get another shot to test their mettle on their home field when they host divisional rival Cincinnati Sunday night. ...
Other notes of interest. ... J.K. Dobbins couldn't wait to play in a packed home stadium for the first time, and he made quite an entrance.
Dobbins scored two touchdowns in the first quarter against the Bills -- one on a 1-yard shovel pass and another on a 4-yard run off the left side.
Dobbins played in his second game back from last year's major knee injury, which cost him the entire season. It's his first touchdown in 21 months, dating back to the Ravens' playoff win in Tennessee during the 2020 season.
Dobbins had seven carries for 23 yards and two catches for 17 yards in his debut in New England last week. He's got a bigger workload in his second game back, as he surpassed that rushing total in the first half, including a 16-yard gain.
Dobbins had 62 total yards at halftime and finished with 13 carries for 41 yards, as well as four catches for 22 yards.
"I feel like it gives the offense a lot of confidence when he gets out there and does what he does," Jackson said.
Dobbins got 50 percent of the offensive snaps and out-carried Justice Hill, 13-8. Dobbins' 13 carries are almost double what he had in his debut in New England last week.
He continues to build up and could see an even heavier load if Hill, who injured a hamstring, misses time.
Harbaugh said Hill's is not a major injury. Still, he wasn't on the practice field Wednesday.
"I think we dodged a bullet on that. It's not a serious hamstring," Harbaugh said Monday. "That doesn't mean he won't be out for a little bit, but it's not going to be one of those long-term hamstrings, they say."
Rashod Bateman is dealing with a foot injury and is day-to-day.
Bateman played just 44 percent of the Ravens' offensive snaps. He went to the medical tent after being tackled following a catch and came back out with his helmet on the sideline but didn't take the field down the stretch.
"I don't think it's serious, but we're going to have to see. He told me today that he's kind of day-to-day, so we'll see how it goes," Harbaugh said.
"He was in and out over the course of the last couple drives there, and trying to play through and get on the field. Right there at the end, he just wasn't up for it."
Bateman, who did not practice Wednesday, has been the Ravens' top wide receiver this season, catching 11 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He's averaging 22.1 yards per reception, which is the second-most in the league among receivers with more than two catches.
I'll have more on their progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
In other injury news, running back Gus Edwards has advanced to the on-field portion of his return from last year's knee injury. Harbaugh said Edwards will begin practicing this week.
Dobbins practiced for more than a month before making his game debut, so it shouldn't be expected that Edwards will soon be back in uniform, but it's an important step in the right direction.
Edwards has been a model of consistency over his career, averaging 5.2 yards per carry with a physical downhill style. He would help round out a Ravens running back corps that has featured Dobbins and Hill the past two weeks. ...
You can access complete stats for the Ravens Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson
RBs: Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, J.K. Dobbins
WRs: Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Devin Duvernay, Tylan Wallace
TEs: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As Grace Heidinger of the team's official website noted, heading into Sunday's matchup between the Bills and the Ravens, there were questions about Buffalo's recent inability to win close games, dating back to last season. But Bills kicker Tyler Bass turned that narrative around on the game's final play when he kicked a 21-yard field goal as time expired to win the game 23-20.
Josh Allen led the game-winning drive with the game tied in the final four minutes following a Jordan Poyer interception. The Bills got inside the Ravens 5-yard line in the final seconds to set up Bass' field goal. It's the team's first win by one possession since Nov. 1 2020 against New England.
"It's situational football. It's what coach (Sean) McDermott preaches to us," Allen said. "Defense leads to offense and offense puts us in positions to win games, a couple of huge kicks by Tyler Bass. Those are games that you love winning. It's just a hard-fought battle both ways. Winning on the last play of the game is always fun and just proud of our guys for how they played."
Devin Singletary acknowledged that the team practices those final-play situations leading up to any game. That preparation ultimately allowed them to stay composed when it came down to the final plays against the Ravens that secured the victory.
"We kept preaching to each other, 'Let's be us, take it play and play, and let's try to execute,'" Singletary said. "When we were able to execute, you can see the energy in the game. To come out on the winning side, it feels great, and it shows that we are continuing to grow."
Following the team's first road win on a game's final play since 2014, center Mitch Morse and wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a conversation in the locker room about how the game unfolded. Morse acknowledged that after being a part of this team for four years now, there's been consistency in some close games going their way and some not going their way.
"He (Morse) said it was good to feel like we've been there before," Diggs said. "We've been down before, and we've rallied back before. We didn't shun, we weren't shy, we weren't nervous. We went in chin up, chest out, and we went in with confidence that we were going to win the game."
But that narrative of struggling to successfully close on those games remained mostly outside noise for the Bills.
"It did seem like that last year, we'd end up with those games and on the short end of the stick," Morse said. "We're very proud of this one. There's a lot to learn from a lot for all parties involved. It'll be a great learning tool, but we're very proud to have this win."
But questions remain.
Can the Bills find a way to run the football consistently?
As ESPN.com's Alaina Getzenberg noted, coming into the game, the Bills were worst in the league at run block win rate (62.2 percent) and struggled to get the running game going outside of Allen. That streak only continued against the Ravens as Allen had a team-high 70 rushing yards, and it played a significant role in the team's early offensive struggles.
The Bills went into halftime with 34 rushing yards and finished with a combined 55 yards from their running backs on the ground.
Reasons for hope?
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, the Bills backfield belongs to Singletary.
Sunday's game was the second-straight week in which he locked down the utilization, including 87 percent of the offensive snaps and 55 percent of the rushing attempts, while drawing a 16 percent target share.
He was also on the field for 100 percent of the team's two-minute offense and 88 percent of both short-yardage and long-down distance opportunities.
Second-round running back James Cook had just two snaps against Baltimore, one of which was a dropped pass. ...
Next up, the Bills will try to avoid the need for a come-from-behind win when they host the Steelers this Sunday. ...
On the injury front. ... The news isn't good and wide receiver is now a position of concern for the Bills.
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie did not return Sunday's game after being placed in the concussion protocol. Fellow slot receiver Jamison Crowder was carted off the field with a towel on his head and his left leg in an air cast.
Not surprisingly, initial reports indicate the veteran wideout suffered a broken ankle. NFL Networks' Ian Rapoport reports Crowder will have additional tests to see what other damage went along with it, but he is now out indefinitely.
Wide receiver Jake Kumerow was not active Sunday after suffering a high ankle injury in the Bills' Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Only three other Buffalo wide receivers -- Diggs, Gabe Davis and rookie Khalil Shakir -- were active.
McKenzie suffered his injury in the third quarter after catching an 8-yard pass over the middle on third down. Multiple defenders were near McKenzie to make the tackle, and teammates immediately called over the athletic training staff to look at the receiver, who initially appeared to be motionless on the field.
The Bills' starting slot receiver sat up about a minute later and then jogged off the field and straight into the locker room.
McKenzie had four receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game.
Remember, Davis played in Baltimore despite drawing a questionable designation after aggravating an ankle injury in practice last week.
I'll have more on Davis, who practiced fully Wednesday, and McKenzie and Dawson Knox (foot, hamstring), neither of whom practiced Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update was the week progresses. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bills Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Allen, Kyle Allen
RBs: James Cook, Damien Harris, Latavius Murray, Reggie Gilliam
WRs: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Trent Sherfield, Khalil Shakir, Deonte Harty
TEs: Dawson Knox, Dalton Kincaid, Quintin Morris
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Matt Rhule entered his third season with the Panthers atop perhaps the warmest seat in the NFL.
As NFL.com's Nick Shook suggested, it has only gotten hotter after Rhule's Panthers have won just one of their first four games.
Carolina's performance in Sunday's loss to Arizona was a new low point of the campaign, as the Panthers were outgained 338-220 in yards, converted just 2 of 10 third-down attempts and fell to the Cardinals in a game that was more lopsided than the 26-16 final score indicated.
Much of the negative attention centers on quarterback Baker Mayfield, Rhule's latest hand-picked solution to Carolina's long-running QB conundrum. Like Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater, Mayfield hasn't come through, posting his worst passer rating of his short time with the Panthers on Sunday and causing the home fans to aggressively boo their struggling team.
"They want to see good offense and be entertained and it's not happening," Rhule said Monday. "I get it."
Monday's questioning further emphasized the current state of displeasure with the club. Instead of recapping another frustrating loss, Rhule was forced to answer inquiries regarding his job security and potential new opportunities elsewhere after only one month of football.
Rhule declined to comment on collegiate vacancies, and refused to discuss the quarterbacks the Panthers didn't acquire (i.e., Jimmy Garoppolo) in the offseason. As for those currently on his roster, his best available option is Mayfield, at least for now with Darnold on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
"I think Baker's our quarterback," Rhule said, via The Athletic's Joe Person. "We have to continue to find ways to help him. ... (Darnold) is not cleared right now."
According to Shook, that quote might best capture the current state of the Panthers.
After celebrating their acquisition of Mayfield, the presumed superior option between he and Darnold, Carolina is potentially looking at Darnold as a possible savior by season's end.
Mayfield has struggled mightily in his first month with the Panthers, failing to direct the offense and move the ball consistently. He had five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage against Arizona, raising his NFL lead to 11. He had two interceptions and a lost fumble, the 10th time since he entered the league in 2018 he has had three or more turnovers in a game. No quarterback has more.
In addition, opponents know Mayfield is not good against pressure, and they continue to bring it at the highest blitz rate in the league, about 35 percent. Mayfield isn't responding the way good quarterbacks do, which is why the Panthers are 1-3.
"We just need Baker to settle down and play within the scheme," Rhule said. "That is something he believes in, we all believe in."
Bottom line here?
As ESPN.com's David Newton put it, "The defense continues to be good enough to win, but Mayfield isn't."
Darnold, though, was similarly bad last season, especially after the physical ailments started to pile up. Where Mayfield struggles with accuracy and clean releases, Darnold was overly hesitant and unreliable when protecting the football. The only difference between the two has been the presence of Christian McCaffrey, a luxury afforded to Mayfield upon which he has rarely capitalized.
So turning to Darnold as a franchise's last hope, however, is disheartening.
In the last two weeks, the Panthers' defense has been its best source of points, which simply is not viable in today's NFL. That's where the Panthers are at this point, bringing reason to why media members are asking Rhule about his job security. "If I make this about me, I'm not being the type of coach I want to be," Rhule said, adding, "Our team will respond. We always do."
Carolina has yet to respond this season. If things continue on this track, we can bank on Rhule being forced to reply to questions regarding his job in the weeks to come.
Rhule, Mayfield and the rest will try to regroup and come up with a plan before they host the 49ers this Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... McCaffrey played 87 percent of the snaps after entering the game as questionable. He scored on a 13-yard pass in the second half and finished with 81 receiving yards on nine receptions and 27 rushing yards on eight attempts.
McCaffrey has 408 scrimmage yards this season, tied for fifth in the NFL.
Laviska Shenault Jr. injured his hamstring in the first half and only played four snaps. Chuba Hubbard took over kickoff return duties, playing 70 percent of the special teams snaps.
Shi Smith played 75 percent of the offensive snaps after seeing action in just 36 percent last week. Smith did not have a reception on two targets.
D.J. Moore caught 6-of-11 targets for 50 yards while Robbie Anderson pulled in 3-of-5 for 26 yards against the Cardinals.
As underwhelming as Moore's numbers were, it was easily his most productive of the season. That's another indication of how dysfunctional Mayfield is right now. As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, Moore is going to be difficult to trust as a WR3 for Mayfield's daunting Week 5 test with the 49ers. ...
Eddy Pineiro kicked a career-long 54-yard field goal in the first half. Pineiro is one of three NFL kickers that are 100 percent on field goals with a minimum of eight attempts. ...
On the injury front. ... I'll obviously be watching for any possible setbacks for McCaffrey, but expecting him to miss some practice time (the team already sits him out on Wednesdays to help manage his health) seems reasonable. I'll have more on that (and on Shenault, who didn't practice Wednesday) via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Also. ... ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Darnold, while he's eligible to come off IR, is not close to returning to play. Schefter added a source told him that it's still "going to be a while."
You can access complete stats for the Panthers Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Bryce Young, Andy Dalton
RBs: Miles Sanders, Chuba Hubbard, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, Jonathan Mingo, Terrace Marshall Jr., Laviska Shenault, Ihmir Smith-Marsette
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble, Giovanni Ricci
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
It was a frustrating Sunday afternoon at blustery MetLife Stadium for the Bears, who failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season in a deflating 20-12 loss to the Giants.
Michael Badgley, an emergency kicker who was signed Saturday, provided all of the Bears' points, booting all four field goals he attempted from 29, 22, 40 and 35 yards.
He replaced Cairo Santos, who missed the contest due to a personal issue.
The Bears were forced to settle for field goals on all three of their red-zone possessions in the game, with those drives stalling at the Giants' 11, 4 and 17.
The kicks came, respectively, after a Justin Fields incompletion on third-and-7, Khalil Herbert was stopped for a 1-yard gain on third-and-2 from the 5 and Cole Kmet was dropped for a three-yard loss on a third-and-6 completion from the 14.
The story has been the same for the Bears (2-2) all season. The defense has played well enough to win, but the offense led by Fields has averaged 16 points.
"We definitely have to punch it in the red zone to win the game," said receiver Darnell Mooney, who had four receptions for a season-high 94 yards after catching four passes in the first three games. "The defense is playing well. What was it, 20 points? It's enough to get the win, but we've just got to punch it in, for sure."
Fields said a lot of things hurt the Bears in the red zone.
"I think the main thing was just execution," he said. "Of course, every red zone drive was different, but I felt like we did a good job driving the ball, getting to the red zone. But I think we've just got to capitalize on it when we get down there and score seven."
Head coach Matt Eberflus said settling for field goals is never good with the Giants getting a pair of touchdowns runs from quarterback Daniel Jones before he hurt his ankle in the third quarter.
One of those TDs by Jones was set up by a strip-sack of Fields by linebacker Azeez Ojulari. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux recovered the ball.
"Obviously, in the first half, we needed to do a better job of stopping the run with the quarterback," Eberflus said. "I thought we did a good job of adjusting to that in the second half. Saquon (Barkley) ended up popping some runs on us and they ran the ball too effectively for us to win the game today. So, we have to improve that, for sure."
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin noted, Fields' connection with receiver Mooney (four catches, 94 yards) was the best it has looked all season, and there were moments where the second-year quarterback looked more comfortable throwing the ball.
But Fields still took five sacks and completed 10 of his 20 passes. Those 10 passes were the most he has completed in a game all season.
Mooney was not impressed with his own production.
"I don't care about yards," Mooney said. "I don't care about how many yards I get on the season. I just want to win. We didn't win today, so [I'm] upset."
Mooney generated the offense's longest play of the season, hauling in a 56-yard bomb from Fields on the first play of the Bears' second possession to set up Badgley's second field goal, which cut the deficit to 7-6.
Despite David Montgomery's absence, the Bears rushed for 149 yards on 32 carries, with Herbert running for 77 yards on 17 attempts, Fields gaining 52 yards on seven carries and Trestan Ebner adding 20 yards on six attempts. ...
Making his NFL debut after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury, rookie Velus Jones Jr. made a costly mistake.
With the Bears trailing 20-12, the Giants punted from their own 7 with 2:13 remaining in the game. Jones muffed the punt and New York recovered.
"He's going to be hurt about it," Mooney said. "No one wants to drop the ball. But he'll be fine. He'll be good. We'll have our arms around him. He'll be fine. He's going to take one to the crib next week, so everybody will forget about this one."
Jones, a third-round pick from Tennessee, had three other touches in the game—a pair of 22-yard kickoff returns and a 19-yard punt return. ...
On the injury front. ... Montgomery (ankle) and tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles) sat this one out; their status for this week -- along with that of Santos -- will be something I follow up on via Late-Breaking Update as the Bears begin working on preparations to take on the Vikings in Minnesota on Sunday.
That said, Montgomery did not pactice Wednesday.
Beyond that, left guard Cody Whitehair will miss "some time" with a knee injury, Eberflus announced Monday. Now we know how long -- best case.
The Bears designated N'Keal Harry (ankle) to return from injured reserve.
Whitehair was placed on injured reserve in a corresponding move.
Harry now has a 21-day window to be officially activated. As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, the former Patriot suffered an ankle injury at the beginning of camp and was forced to undergo surgery, landing him on injured reserve to start the season.
You can access complete stats for the Bears Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Fields, Tyson Bagent, Nathan Peterman
RBs: Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson, D'Onta Foreman, Travis Homer
WRs: D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr., Trent Taylor
TEs: Cole Kmet, Marcedes Lewis, Jake Tonges
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
After Cincinnati lost the first two games of the season, Joe Burrow told everyone to relax. The Bengals would turn it around, the star quarterback promised.
As Associated Press sports writer Mitch Stacy suggested, maybe feeding off the out-sized confidence of their leader, the Bengals reeled off two wins in the span of five days, including last Thursday night's 27-15 triumph over the Dolphins in front a record home crowd.
Burrow said the team looked at the quick Sunday-Thursday turnaround as an opportunity "to get that ugly taste out of our mouth" from the first two sloppy losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas.
"Then we have a long weekend to enjoy, get our bodies right, eat some good food, watch some football, enjoy the weekend and come back at it," he said.
The third-year quarterback gave much of the credit to the offensive line, which got four new starters before the season and was slow to develop chemistry in the first two games when Burrow was sacked a combined 13 times.
Burrow was sacked twice in the Week 3 win over the New York Jets and just once by Miami. Plus, he had time for throw for 287 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins.
"Those guys really work hard to have a game like that," Burrow said. "They took a lot of heat the first two weeks, but they are getting better and better. The protection was awesome (Thursday) and that's the way it will be going forward."
Coach Zac Taylor was more effusive than usual after the Miami game.
"We got a great team, man. I love this team. I love everything about them," Taylor said. "They didn't hesitate for one second those first two weeks when all the noise was getting loud, the expectations, all that. They didn't allow that to affect them for one second.
"They just came out there and answered the bell for two consecutive weeks."
That said, the Bengals left a lot of points on the field.
Burrow's fourth-quarter hook-up with Tyler Boyd picked up 43 yards and put the Bengals on the Miami 6 with a new set of downs. But Joe Mixon ran the ball three straight times and couldn't get in, so Cincinnati had to settle for an Evan McPherson field goal.
McPherson booted a 57-yarder later in the fourth when another drive stalled.
In the second quarter, the Bengals decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 on the Dolphins 24, but Mixon was stopped cold and the ball turned over on downs.
Mixon is running the ball hard, but he and the O-line haven't been able break him into the secondary for longer gains. He carried 24 times for 61 yards, an average of 2 1/2-yards per touch. His longest run was 7 yards.
Conversely, Tee Higgins had his best game of the season, catching seven of his nine targets for 124 yards, including a 59-yard TD.
According to ESPN.com's Ben Baby, there's a reason for this.
Ja'Marr Chase had four catches for 81 yards, but teams are defending Chase to not let him rack up big games against them. Miami constantly rolled a safety to Chase's side of the field and forced Burrow to find other receiving targets.
That's why Higgins had a massive performance.
"We realized really early that they were doubling Tyler Boyd and Ja'Marr and playing zero –– man to man –– with me with (Xavien) Howard, one of the best corners in the league," Higgins said, via Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It was a big game for me, and I delivered."
Higgins is now leading the Bengals with 315 receiving yards this season, reminding opposing defenses that they single cover him at their peril.
On the injury front. ... Higgins was limited in Wednesday's practice due to an ankle injury. Hayden Hurst was also limited by a groin issue he's played through the last two weeks.
Fellow tight end Devin Asiasi left in the second half with an ankle injury. There was no update on his condition.
I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update as needed. ...
Of course, the Bengals enjoyed some extra time to rest and recover before going on the road to play the AFC North rival Ravens Sunday night.
One last note here. ... McPherson was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday.
McPherson hit the above-mentioned field goals of 19 and 57 yards in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win. He also connected on all three of his extra points.
This is the third time in McPherson’s young career that he’s been named AFC special teams player of the week. He also received the honor after Week One and Week 11 last year.This is the third time in McPherson’s young career that he’s been named AFC special teams player of the week. He also received the honor after Week 1 and Week 11 last year. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bengals Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Joe Burrow, Jake Browning
RBs: Joe Mixon, Chase Brown, Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans
WRs: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Andrei Iosivas, Trenton Irwin, Kwamie Lassiter II, Charlie Jones
TEs: Irv Smith Jr., Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers, a three-point loss led many observers to second-guess head coach Kevin Stefanski's ill-fated decision not to kick a field goal on the Browns' opening drive against Atlanta.
It's possible the Browns' depleted defense played a role in Stefanski's call to go for it.
The Browns were missing three starters on their defensive line, including All-Pro end Myles Garrett, in Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Falcons. Garrett was ruled out on Saturday as he continues to recover from injuries suffered when he flipped his Porsche while speeding on Monday.
"Man, we knew it was going to be tough on the defensive side of the ball," running back Kareem Hunt said. "It was tough for everybody. We've got to find a way to win."
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney missed his second consecutive game with an ankle injury. Tackle Taven Bryan (hamstring) also did not play.
The defense lost starting linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. to a season-ending quadriceps injury in last week's win over Pittsburgh.
Given the short-handed defense, perhaps it's understandable that Stefanski left his offense on the field instead of going for a field goal on fourth-and-3 from the Atlanta 4 on Cleveland's opening drive. Jacoby Brissett's incomplete pass left the Browns with no points.
Stefanski wouldn't say if he felt extra urgency to take advantage of the early touchdown opportunity.
"We wanted to score sevens in the red zone. We really felt like we could," Stefanski said. "We tried to run it on the third down but got knocked back, which was unfortunate, and we didn't come away with points and that falls on me."
It was no surprise he faced numerous questions about the decision after the game.
"I felt comfortable with the play call, trying to get seven points down there as opposed to three," Stefanski said. "I understand the question, but I felt good about the play."
Stefanski said Clowney "was close" to being cleared to play against Atlanta.
"I wanted to give him some time with the ankle, but it wasn't quite ready today," he said, adding it was too early to speculate on the status of the injured players for next week's home game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Brissett wouldn't blame the loss on one missed scoring opportunity.
"It's a bunch of plays that we can go through and point at and say 'This was that,'" Brissett said. "We still had a chance at the end. ... We've got to learn from it just like we've done from every game and then find ways to get better, do things that we did good in this game and go from there."
Brissett said the players "respect Kevin for giving us that trust" on the fourth-down decision. Hunt also backed his coach.
"I'm cool with the decision to go for it," Hunt said. "We've definitely got to put points on the board and make it work."
Despite the missing players, Cleveland held Atlanta to 131 passing yards. Cornerback Denzel Ward had an interception. Atlanta outgained Cleveland 202 yards to 177 on the ground.
Brissett completed 21 of 35 passes for 234 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Brissett is the fill-in starter while Deshaun Watson serves his 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. But for now, at 2-2 and facing one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, ESPN.com's Jake Trotter contends Cleveland's season already could be teetering.
Next up, The Browns will return to Cleveland for a huge AFC matchup against the Chargers on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Nick Chubb continued to again look like the best running back in the NFL. He carried the ball 19 times for 118 yards and one touchdown, which will likely leave him as the league's leading rusher for the second straight week.
His 28-yard touchdown run, one where the Falcons defense never touched him, helped even the score late in the fourth quarter.
Chubb, who has cleared the century mark in three of four games this season, has 25 100-yard rushing performances in his career. ...
Donovan Peoples-Jones caught five passes for a season-high 71 yards. Peoples-Jones battled the sun and a defender while hauling in a beautifully thrown 42-yard pass by Brissett.
Amari Cooper was bottled up by the Falcons, who paid extra attention to Cleveland's No. 1 wide receiver. Cooper was held to one catch on four targets for 9 yards.
On the injury front. ... Browns defensive end Myles Garrett reportedly will be hindered by the shoulder injury suffered in last Monday's car accident for the next two to four weeks. However, he could be back by Sunday, when the Browns host the Chargers.
"I don't know about that specific report," Stefanski told reporters on Monday. "I would just tell you I want to get to Wednesday. I know he is feeling better so we will see where we are come Wednesday."
Stefanski said the same thing about defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who like Garrett missed Sunday's loss to the Falcons due to injury.
"Until we get to Wednesday, I think it is probably premature," Stefanski said regarding Clowney.
Obviously, it would be nice for the 2-2 Browns to have either. It would be better to have both. ...
The Browns announced that they have placed Ford on injured reserve. The fifth-round pick injured his ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons.
Ford played exclusively on special teams in the first four games of the season. He returned six kickoffs for 145 yards and was credited with one tackle during his time on the field.
The Browns planned to have Jakeem Grant handle their return work this season, but he tore his Achilles this summer. Demetric Felton has experience as a kickoff returner and could return to that role with Ford out of action.
Veteran tight end Pharaoh Brown is poised to start a second stint in Cleveland.
Brown expects to sign with the Browns today, as long as he passes his physical, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
The 28-year-old Brown previously played in Cleveland in 2018 and 2019 before signing with Houston in 2020. The Texans cut him yesterday.
As Profootballtalk.com suggested, it was surprising when the Texans cut Brown because they just signed him to a contract with $3 million guaranteed in March, but they had decided to move on. The Browns think Brown has something more he can offer.
You can access complete stats for the Browns Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Deshaun Watson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson
RBs: Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt, Pierre Strong Jr., Nick Chubb
WRs: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell, Michael Woods II, Anthony Schwartz, Jakeem Grant
TEs: David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
The Dallas Cowboys are in no rush to get Dak Prescott back at quarterback, thanks to Cooper Rush.
A trip to Los Angeles to face the defending Super Bowl champion Rams on Sunday seemed a good plan for Prescott's return when the prognosis improved from as many as eight weeks to as few as four.
Owner Jerry Jones sounded as if more healing time for the fractured right thumb might be in order after Rush improved to 3-0 as a starter this season and 4-0 for his career in a 25-10 victory over Washington.
"As we look to the future, Dak is an ingredient to our success that's really a must," Jones said Sunday. "The first thing that happened when Dak went down that early, literally after the first game, I thought, 'Oh, have we shortchanged ourself? Have we really got this quarterback thing addressed?'
"So I'll tell you this. (Rush has) answered any apprehension I had about our ability to go out here and compete."
The Cowboys (3-1) aren't dominating on offense without their $40 million QB.
Far from it. Dallas is in the bottom 10 in the NFL in points, total yards, passing yards and third down conversions.
But Rush hasn't thrown an interception in 102 passes this season (two against Washington were nullified by penalties). The undrafted sixth-year pro has led timely touchdown drives in the past two victories.
This surge started with the 20-17 upset of defending AFC champion Cincinnati, with Rush getting Dallas in position for the winning field goal after Prescott's injury in the season-opening loss to Tampa Bay.
"I think he knows he's got a lot of confidence in the offense, that he knows where the cars are on the field," Jones said. "I can't say enough about his play. It's far more than what I would've expected."
That said, Dallas is winning with defense.
For the first time since 1973, the defense has not allowed 20 points in any of their first four games. The Cowboys have allowed one touchdown in each of the first four games. On Sunday, they sacked Carson Wentz twice, intercepted him twice and harassed him all game long.
As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon pointed out, their four touchdowns allowed match the 1970 and 1972 teams for the fewest in franchise history.
According to ESPN.com's Todd Archer, so good was the Dallas defense that even when Washington started a drive on the Cowboys' 30 in the fourth quarter, it got a stop with a Trevon Diggs' pass deflection in the end zone on a fourth-down play. Playing without Prescott, the defense knew it needed to carry the day. It did. ... Again.
While the Cowboys had to settle for two sacks a week after Washington's Carson Wentz was dropped nine times, they did force two intentional grounding penalties and a slammed water bottle on the sideline from the frustrated QB. Dallas (15 sacks) entered Monday second in the NFL behind Philadelphia (16).
"I'll repeat it again," reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons said. "I think we've really got a chance to be the best defensive team in this league."
Next up, the Super Bowl champion Rams will have Dallas' attention in LA. Looming for the defending NFC East champion, though, is currently undefeated -- and division-leading -- Philadelphia in prime time Oct. 16.
One more note on Prescott, who isn’t quite ready to roll -- yet.
The question for Prescott is whether he can grip the ball with enough force to play in a game. Jones said the bone didn't have to heal completely because of the plate that was surgically inserted.
Asked on 105.3 The Fan whether Dak can currently grip the ball, Jones said, “No, not well enough to play.”
McCarthy wasn’t looking to force Prescott back into the fray.
"I definitely want to see Dak go through a full week of prep before he plays," McCarthy said Monday, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. "I mean, we're not talking about being out one week here or two. This is going to be a month. ... We've got four seven-day runs here, so I think that will time up."
One more note on Rush. ... According to the NFL, he is the first quarterback in NFL to win each of his first four career starts with a passer rating of 90 or higher in each of the four wins.
The 107.5 rating against the Commanders was the best of those four games.
He also has joined a very specifically obscure club. He's the sixth undrafted quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win his first four starts, joining Kurt Warner, Kyle Allen, Dieter Brock, John Stofa and Mike Tomczak.
Not on that list?
Former Cowboys undrafted quarterback Tony Romo. He went 3-1 in his first four starts in 2006, losing to Washington while beating the Panthers, Cardinals, and Colts. ...
Other notes of interest. ... There are issues with the running game.
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined to average barely 2 yards per carry in 27 attempts. This was a week after averaging 6.4 yards on 28 runs.
They had six negative rushing attempts between them, the most in a game in their three-plus seasons together. Pollard had a career-high four. ...
On a more positive note. ... It was nearly nine months ago to the day that Michael Gallup tore his ACL in Week 17 last season against the Cardinals. He returned to action Sunday -- and returned to the end zone as well, catching the first touchdown of the game.
"I've been envisioning it," Gallup said. "Ever since I got hurt it's like, 'When I come back, I need to make a statement.' That means I've actually done the work. It's a good feeling."
Gallup stepped up when the Cowboys looked like they were back on their heels as the first half winded down. After a stale quarter and a half from the offense with just two field goals, the Commanders drove down to take the lead on a Jahan Dotson 10-yard touchdown.
Rush and Gallup had never started a game together during their time together in Dallas before Sunday. In Rush's only start last season in Minnesota, Gallup was not available to play due to injury. But the two appeared to have chemistry today in just a small sample size, and Gallup spoke highly of the first quarterback in franchise history to win each of his first four starts.
"[Cooper] does what he's supposed to do, and he's been that way ever since I've known him," Gallup said. "It's come in and do your job. That's what he tells us in all of our team meetings."
While he might've only had just two catches for 24 yards on only three targets, Gallup did nab the touchdown of course. But more importantly than that, he did the one thing the Cowboys have been missing in his absence: the ability to stretch the field.
The caveat in today's game? He did it by drawing penalties. Multiple times Gallup was able to lure Commanders' defensive backs into committing pass interference and extend drives, an uncanny trait for one to possess.
"You can either hold me or I'm going to catch it," Gallup said. "I enjoy it, putting ourselves in a better field position. Let's everybody else score and do what they're supposed to do."
With Gallup now back in the fold and CeeDee Lamb beginning to get hot after recording six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, the Cowboys' receiving corps is beginning to round into form.
"He went for 97 [yards]" Gallup said of Lamb. "Should have gone for 130 [yards], but now somebody's going to get doubled. Somebody else is going to catch the ball, it is what it is. We know that."
In a related note. ... Tight end Dalton Schultz might have tried to come back too soon from a knee sprain sustained in Week 2 against the Bengals. He went without a catch for the first time since becoming the primary option at his position following Blake Jarwin's season-ending knee injury in the 2020 opener.
That said, Schultz was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. ...
Also on the injury report. ... All-Pro RG Zack Martin was out of the game briefly in the third quarter after colliding with another player and favoring his right leg. ... CB Jourdan Lewis, who battled a hamstring injury during training camp, was a late scratch with a groin issue. Lewis' injury led to the first defensive snaps and first interception for rookie DaRon Bland. ...
The Cowboys have promoted quarterback Will Grier to the active roster the last three weeks on a temporary basis, but they need to make another roster move to have him available as Rush's backup this week.
According to multiple reports, Grier will be signed to the active roster. Players on the practice squad are allowed to move up to the active roster and revert to the practice squad three times without going through waivers or being released.
The Cowboys opened a roster spot for Greer by placing long snapper Jake McQuaide on injured reserve. According to multiple reports, they are signing Matt Overton and Tucker Addington to the practice squad on Tuesday with plans to pick one of them to snap later in the week.
And finally. ... McCarthy probably moved up the list on the odds for next coach fired after a poor showing, and the Prescott injury, in the loss to the Buccaneers. The doom-and-gloom outlook wasn't good.
Jones expressed confidence in the Super Bowl-winning coach from Green Bay going into Week 2. McCarthy has shown why.
"It's like a picture to me, a boxer, a fighter, walking out and just getting hit the best shot you absolutely could right on the chin, first step out," Jones said. "How do you get that all back together?
"Give him his due. He has managed to right the ship, steady it, and then progressively get this team in shape to play without Dak. That's a team-wide thing."
You can access complete stats for the Cowboys Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Trey Lance
RBs: Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, Hunter Luepke
WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Tolbert, Jalen Brooks
TEs: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Running back Javonte Williams, who is the Broncos' leading rusher, will miss the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee, sources told ESPN's Jeff Legwold.
Sources tell Legwold that Williams will have surgery in the coming weeks.
Williams underwent tests, including a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam that also showed a tear in his right LCL (lateral collateral ligament), sources said.
Williams suffered the injury on the Broncos' first play of the second half of Sunday's 32-23 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Williams, who entered the game as the Broncos' leader in carries and rushing yards, stayed down on the field after a 1-yard loss.
The Broncos' medical staff checked his right knee before he was helped to the injury tent on the Broncos' sideline. Williams was not able to put his full weight on his leg as he was helped to the sideline. A few minutes later he was taken to the Broncos' locker room on a cart and ruled out for the remainder of the game.
The second-year running back, who piled up broken tackles in 2021 as a rookie with his all-out style, then left the Broncos' locker room in Allegiant Stadium on crutches as some of his teammates offered quiet encouragement.
"Obviously seeing Javonte go down, that hurt," quarterback Russell Wilson said following the game. "Hopefully he'll be OK."
Mike Boone replaced Williams in the Broncos' lineup right after Williams went down. Melvin Gordon had split time with Williams over the first three games of the season, but Gordon fumbled in the second quarter and the Raiders' Amik Robertson returned it 68 yards for a touchdown.
Now the Broncos (2-2) have a condensed week to fix their backfield issues ahead of their game Thursday night against Indianapolis (1-2-1).
Gordon's latest flub changed the tenor of the Broncos' game at Las Vegas, where they lost to the league's only 0-3 team and their former coach Josh McDaniels while also losing Williams and Randy Gregory to knee injuries.
Gordon was crestfallen on the sideline after fumbling on his first carry and watching cornerback Amik Robertson return it for a 68-yard touchdown that jump-started the Raiders' 32-23 win.
Gordon drew plenty of kudos from reporters for being a standup guy and taking questions afterward -- but he walked off the podium without responding when asked about working on ball security last week following a pair of fumbles against the 49ers.
"In the end, you can't put the ball on the ground. It's that simple," head coach Nathaniel Hackett said after the game.
A day later, Hackett was pumping up his dejected running back ahead of Thursday night's game against the Colts.
"Melvin's a true pro. I mean, this is a guy that's been doing this for a long time," Hackett said Monday. "He's harder on himself than anybody. And he's part of our team. We love the guy. I mean, he knows that there was a mishap right there. And it's a great opportunity for him to get back out in the field and prove himself and we're excited to be part of it and to put him in great position to be able to make plays, and we'll watch him do some good things."
Hackett mentioned Gordon's game-winning touchdown run against San Francisco.
"I thought he ran real hard. I mean, he's run the ball really well. I mean, he's going downhill, he's exploding through the hole," Hackett said. "And we want to see that continue. And like I said, he's a true pro. I expect for him to step up and have a great game."
Gordon has fumbled four times in four games this season, and five times in five games going back to last season. And this was his third fumble since last season that's been returned for a touchdown.
"My job is to go out there and make plays, hold onto the ball and to help put this team in the best position to win," Gordon said after the game. "I didn't do that (Sunday). But I'll be all right."
Maybe, but his fumble Sunday was his fifth in 44 touches, or once every 8.8 touches.
The Broncos knew this was the flip side of Gordon's tough runs and superb pass protection when GM George Paton re-signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract this spring that could go up to $4 million with incentives.
Ever since fumbling a half-dozen times his rookie year in 2015, Gordon has had trouble holding onto the football.
Nobody in the NFL has more fumbles (25) or lost fumbles (18) than Gordon in the past decade.
"I have to [bounce back] for the team," Gordon said Sunday night. "... I made a mistake, first guys over there to cheer me up, to get me back right, them boys believe in me. I just got to be better."
Wilson seems to be getting more comfortable in Hackett's offense, or maybe it's the other way around.
But after going 11 for 12 for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Wilson was just 6 for 13 for 88 yards with no TDs after halftime.
Still, the Broncos' offense broke through the atmospheric barrier that was 16 points with three Wilson touchdowns (he ran one in to go with the two scoring passes). But even with the comeback attempt on Sunday, they won't really be back in the playoff conversation until they can do some damage in AFC West away games. The Raiders' win over the Broncos is just another in a growing pile of losses to the Raiders and Chiefs that have contributed mightily to the Broncos being little more than parsley on the division's plate.
Meanwhile, Hackett keeps reminding everyone that he's a rookie head coach with a lot to learn. The latest example came Friday when he downplayed the rivalry with the Raiders, saying: "Can't really hate anybody in this world. That's too much energy. ... It's another game, we're excited to go against the Raiders."
Hopefully they'll be excited to go up against the equally banged-up Colts (1-2-1) in Denver on Thursday Night Football. ...
When they do, they'll have a new piece in the backfield. ... The Broncos signed Latavius Murray off the Saints' practice squad, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported.
Murray made his 2022 debut on Sunday in London, rushing for 57 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries for the Saints against the Vikings.
In nine seasons, Murray has played for the Raiders, Vikings, Saints and Ravens. He has appeared in 169 games with 69 starts and has 1,517 touches for 6,926 yards and 52 touchdowns.
For the record, offensive coordinator Justin Outten told reporters Gordon would "carry the load obviously."
"We'll have a mix of Boone and after that we've got to figure out who can spell and who feels best in that position. But we trust Melvin going forward here," Outten added. ...
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... The Broncos did not practice on Monday ahead of their "Thursday Night Football" meeting with the Colts, but Wilson was among the players listed as limited on the team's estimated injury report.
"[Wilson] got dinged up in the game, and he's just a little sore today," Hackett said on Monday, "and we're going to be sure to take care of him and get him treatment throughout the week."
Hackett said the Broncos expect Wilson (right shoulder) to play against the Colts.
"Right now, he's playing," Hackett said.
Wilson spoke to reporters on Tuesday and said, via Nick Kosmider of TheAthletic.com, that he is "super confident" that he'll be playing against the Colts. He added that he believes he will be able to play "without limitations" from the shoulder.
Gordon (neck) and wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (hamstring) was also estimated as a limited participant.
On Wednesday, the team released its final injury report and neither Wilson nor Gordon had an injury designation.
That said, I'll continue to follow up on all involved -- including Murray and his potential role -- through the inactive announcement in advance of Thursday night's kickoff. ...
One last injury note here. ... Gregory (right knee) needs surgery and will miss multiple weeks, Hackett said. S P.J. Locke and OLB Aaron Patrick are in concussion protocol and will miss the Colts game. ...
Also worth noting. ... K.J. Hamler got his first catch of the year in Week 4, and it was a big one. Wilson found him deep downfield for a 55-yard bomb, and Hamler secured the catch to set up Wilson's rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"He's not getting the playing time that he probably would like to get. ... But he stayed ready, and his number got called and he made a huge play for us," Sutton said. "It gave us that momentum to be able to have an opportunity to be able to come back there in the fourth quarter."
You can access complete stats for the Broncos Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Russell Wilson, Jarrett Stidham
RBs: Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, Jaleel McLaughlin
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Brandon Johnson, Marvin Mims Jr., Lil'Jordan Humphrey
TEs: Adam Trautman, Chris Manhertz, Greg Dulcich
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith framed it: "Good news: The Lions' offense is on pace to score more points than all but one other team in NFL history.
"Bad news: The Lions' defense is on pace to allow by far the most points of any team in NFL history. ..."
Through four games, the Lions have scored 140 games and allowed 141. That puts them on pace to score 595 points over 17 games this season and allow 599.
The NFL record for points scored in a season was 606 by Peyton Manning and the Broncos in 2013. If the Lions keep scoring at their current pace, they'll fall just short of that record and move into second place, just ahead of the 16-0 2007 Patriots
The all-time record for most points allowed was 533 by the Baltimore Colts in 1981. If the Lions keep giving up points at their current pace, they'll blow past that record in the 16th game of this season.
Lions games have certainly been entertaining this season if you like high-scoring football, but the 1-3 Lions have a lot to fix on defense if they want to avoid an entertaining but disappointing season.
Meanwhile, head coach Dan Campbell says there's a recurring theme for his team's defensive struggles this season.
"We have a guy that doesn't do the right thing and then the guy who knows what to do is trying to overcompensate for it, then that's costing him a step on his job and then this guy's trying to cover for him," Campbell said Monday. "Then the next play, they don't trust that their teammates are going to be there.
"We're in this vicious cycle right now."
In Sunday's 48-45 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions allowed 555 yards to a team that had scored a total of 47 points in its first three games.
Campbell said he and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, along with all the defensive assistant coaches, are still working through their options, but are planning to move some personnel around and simplify some things schematically.
Wide receiver Josh Reynolds said he had been through a similar situation when he was with the Los Angeles Rams and knows it can turn around.
"You got a long season, as the year goes on, they start finding their groove, they start figuring out how to play together," Reynolds said.
"That's exactly what it is, patience and continuing to execute play calls, being in spots that you need to be at, not trying to do more than your job is designed. I think that's a big part of it right now, guys trying to overcompensate. Just do your job and everything falls into place."
If there's a player who knows what a successful offense looks like, it's Reynolds, who played on a high-powered offense along with quarterback Jared Goff on the Rams. The Lions have the highest-scoring offense in the league this season.
"It's up there," Reynolds said. "It's feeling real Ramsy for sure. It's awesome to be a part of it on offense and being able to contribute."
Whether it is moving players around, simplifying the scheme or bringing in some new players, something has to change with the defense.
Certainly forcing the opponent to punt would be a good start as the Seahawks did not punt once on Sunday. Seattle was 9 for 12 on third downs.
Despite the struggles of the defense, Campbell continues to voice his support for Glenn.
"I've had to do this before and I'm not afraid to make a hard decision," Campbell said. "If I really believed that was the cause of it and I don't believe it is. I believe that Aaron Glenn was the right man for the job and he gives us our best hope, our best option, to run this defense. I just do."
Whatever the case, it's safe to say the defense is a work in progress. And as fantasy managers, we don't care.
In fact, we prefer it.
Anything that forces this offense to play keep up -- something they're obviously pretty good at -- is fine with us.
And it's fairly remarkable they were able to keep that up this past week.
While tight end T.J. Hockenson hadn't been involved much in the team's first three contests, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back D'Andre Swift were both out due to injury. So, Hockenson stepped up.
Hockenson caught eight passes for 179 yards with two touchdowns in Detroit's wild 48-45 loss to Seattle. Hockenson broke a longstanding franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single game, besting Jim Gibbons' 161 yards set in 1964.
"Going into the week, I knew it was going to be a fun one," Hockenson said postgame, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. "We knew somebody was going to have to put the team on [his shoulders] and make sure the ball was moving. So that was kind of my goal just coming into this game, keep the ball moving, make plays when they're called. I was able to do that for sure."
Hockenson had a 32-yard touchdown in the first quarter to open Detroit's scoring. He had an 81-yard reception, which saw him rumbling down the field. He caught a 4-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that put the Lions down by three points.
The tight end now leads Detroit with 261 yards and is tied for the team lead with three touchdowns in the young season.
As ESPN.com's Eric Woodyard noted, with so much talent on offense, Goff and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson should both make more concerted efforts to get Hockenson rolling.
"I think you could see him kind of catch a rhythm," Goff said. "He started breaking some tackles, started being extremely decisive on his routes, extremely separating well, and doing a lot of good things. And that's just who he is. He's a rhythm player, and getting him in that rhythm is important for us. We needed to do that, and you can see how dangerous he is catching a shallow and taking it 80 yards.
"But, yeah. He is a hell of a player, and we need to keep him involved."
No matter who Goff is targeting through four weeks, it seems to be working.
Meanwhile, Jamaal Williams filled the gap left by Swift. He carried 19 times for 108 yards and two TDs, with a long run of 51 yards. He's shown a good mix of power and surprising speed.
In fact, Williams set a team record, becoming the first Lions player with six rushing touchdowns through the first four weeks of a season, and credits the early production to his daily routine of taking care of his body.
Worth noting, however; Williams came through big with 23 fantasy points and he dominated rushing attempts (with 77 percent).
But FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland notes Williams only played 49 percent of snaps and gave way to Craig Reynolds for the two-minute offense per PFF.
In other words, Williams is not an every-down option while Swift is out, which makes those TDs more important. ...
In addition, the time Goff and Reynolds spent together with the Rams is paying off in Detroit. Despite playing with what he called a low-grade ankle sprain, Reynolds was second on the team with seven receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.
But it all starts up front with the offensive line. Goff has been sacked once in the last two games -- and wasn't sacked at all against Seattle.
We'll see if that unit can continue to have success against a pretty solid New England pass rush when they travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots this Sunday. ...
Beyond St. Brown, Swift and Chark, receiver Quintez Cephus left Sunday's game with a foot injury and CB Amani Oruwariye went out late with a neck injury. OL Evan Brown also has an ankle injury.
"Amani I think is going to be OK," Campbell said. "And Evan, he's got an ankle. I don't think it's long term but it's a day to day."
Campbell said the news on Cephus was not as optimistic and was undergoing an MRI.
The Lions are hopeful Austin Seibert's right groin will be healed enough to kick this week. But if not, the Lions will have Michael Badgley as their kicker against the Patriots.
Detroit signed Badgley to its practice squad, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.
The Lions cut Dominik Eberle on Monday after he missed two extra points against the Seahawks.
Badgley kicked for the Bears on Sunday, scoring all 12 of the team's points Sunday, going 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts.
As for the rest of the injuries, St. Brown, Swift, Hockenson, Chark and Reynolds were all slated to sit out Wednesday's practice. I'll have more on all involved -- with a focus on St. Brown, Swift and Chark (Campbell said the team is still day-to-day with Swift and St. Brown, but that both are "better") -- in coming days. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
Remember, Campbell floated the idea of holding Swift out through the team's Week 6 bye early last week. ...
You can access complete stats for the Lions Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jared Goff, Teddy Bridgewater
RBs: Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery, Craig Reynolds, Zonovan Knight
WRs: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Marvin Jones, Antoine Green, Jameson Williams
TEs: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
The Green Bay Packers eked out a 27-24 overtime victory over the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field on Sunday, but MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers knows he needs to play better.
The Packers are scoring 18.8 points per game, down from 26.5 last season and a league-high 31.8 in 2020.
Rodgers reached a career milestone by throwing his 500th career touchdown pass, a total that includes the playoffs. The only other players with more than 500 are Tom Brady (716), Drew Brees (608), Peyton Manning (579) and Brett Favre (552).
"This way of winning, I don't think, is sustainable because it puts too much pressure on our defense," Rodgers said after the game, via ESPN.com. "And obviously, I've got to play better and will play better."
Despite facing rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe, who entered the game after Brian Hoyer went down in the first quarter with a head injury, the Packers couldn't put the Patriots away.
Rodgers had a woeful first half, earning an 11.2 passer rating while completing 4 of 11 throws for 44 yards and a pick-six late in the half. It was Rodgers' second-career pick-six at Lambeau Field and gave the Patriots the halftime lead.
Rodgers said he "missed the throw so badly" on the pick-six that Patriots rookie cornerback Jack Jones actually had to come back to make the play. "If I had thrown the ball where I was supposed to, he probably picks it in stride," Rodgers said.
The QB also took the blame for a bad throw to rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs that resulted in a fumble.
In the second half and overtime, Rodgers picked it up, earning a 124.8 passer rating the rest of the way with two TDs. The Packers were able to stretch the field in the second half. After completing just 1 of 5 passes of 10-plus air yards in the first two quarters, Rodgers went 7-of-9 passing in the second half.
"I settled in and usually don't have two terrible halves," Rodgers said. "So I kind of returned to the form I expect from myself, and we started moving the football."
The Packers escaped with a win, but Rodgers was honest about the effort. Perhaps the outcome would have been different if they weren't facing a rookie quarterback making his first appearance.
"You can't be 2-2 losing to a third-string quarterback and not playing great in all three phases, so we had to have this one," Rodgers said. "That doesn't take anything away from the joy of winning, but this was one we had to have."
This week, of course, will pose some unique challenges.
According to Associated Press sports writer Steve Megargee, head coach Matt LaFleur is relying on his NFL overseas experience as his team prepares to play the first international game in franchise history as the Packers (3-1) began getting ready to play the New York Giants (3-1) at London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
LaFleur has coached in London twice before and plenty of his assistants also have worked NFL games in Europe.
"It's such an adjustment, and I think a lot of it is who handles this trip the best is going to be able to play to the best of their abilities," LaFleur said Monday.
LaFleur was the Los Angeles Rams' offensive coordinator in 2017 when they beat the Arizona Cardinals 33-0 and held the same position with the Tennessee Titans in 2018 when they lost 20-19 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Although he's adjusting the Packers' schedule to help them prepare for the travel and the 6-hour time difference, LaFleur declined to go into specifics about those changes.
"The preparation's going to be absolutely critical, especially the mental preparation because you're going to be out of rhythm in terms of just your schedule, the practice schedule," LaFleur said. "And you try to keep it as normal as possible, like (as) typical. But let's face it, it's anything but."
The Packers also must make sure the London trip doesn't have any carryover effect since they don't have a week off afterward. The Packers opted to have their bye week later in the schedule. They'll be hosting the New York Jets one week after their London game.
Because of that demanding schedule, the Packers understand they're going to have to play better to maintain their impressive record. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Aaron Jones rushed 16 times for 110 yards against the Patriots. He also caught three of four targets for five yards.
As CBSSports.com notes, Jones rebounded from a down Week 3 outing by being his usual dynamic self, averaging over 6.5 yards per carry for the third time in four games thus far. Despite garnering a season high in carries, though, teammate A.J. Dillon still got one more than Jones on Sunday.
While Dillon managed 84 scrimmage yards on his 18 total touches, Jones hit the 115-yard mark for the second time in the last three weeks.
Doubs caught five of eight targets for 47 yards and a touchdowns.
Although, as noted above, the rookie coughed the ball up following his first reception, he rebounded with a 13-yard touchdown grab to help tie the game in the fourth quarter. While that score gave Doubs two in as many weeks, he failed to secure a would-be 40-yard touchdown on the Packers' next drive, losing the ball while going to the ground in the end zone.
Despite that big missed opportunity, Rodgers went back to Doubs in overtime, helping the wideout match Allen Lazard for the team lead in targets.
Although his showing wasn't perfect, Doubs maintains good early season traction ahead of Week 5's game in London versus the Giants. ...
Robert Tonyan caught both of his targets for 22 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Tonyan's route share continued to ramp up against New England. The tight end ran a route on nearly 60 percent of Rodgers' drop backs and held on to a 20-yard touchdown grab between two Patriots defenders in the first half.
Still, Tyler Davis and Marcedes Lewis ate into Tonyan's route participation enough to make him a shaky fantasy option in a balanced Green Bay offense. ...
On the injury front. ... Safety Adrian Amos left with a head injury in the first quarter; CB Jaire Alexander didn't play Sunday after missing most of the Tampa Bay game with a groin injury.
You can access complete stats for the Packers Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
RBs: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Emanuel Wilson
WRs: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Samori Toure, Dontayvion Wicks, Grant DuBose, Malik Heath
TEs: Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis, Ben Sims
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken pointed out, rookie Dameon Pierce is one of the few bright spots in what's already become another dismal season for the winless Houston Texans.
Pierce, a fourth-round pick from Florida, had his best game so far in Sunday's 34-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He rushed for 131 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown.
Head coach Lovie Smith was asked about the breakaway speed Pierce showed on the second-quarter scoring run.
"That's the reason we're starting a rookie running back," Smith said. "He can run in between tackles. He can make you miss in the open field. That's a part of his game that we haven't seen. Not many running backs can run for 75 yards in the NFL. That's hard to do. He's just kind of showing you all the things that he can do."
After the game, Pierce clutched the ball he carried for the touchdown and shared where it was headed after he left the locker room.
"That's going to my momma," he said. "This was her first game, her first time coming down to Texas, to Houston to see her baby play."
Pierce is the third Texans rookie to rush for 130 yards or more in a game and his breakaway scamper was the third-longest run in franchise history.
On his long run, Pierce took the handoff and dashed to the right, running through two blocks and then turned on the jets as he barreled toward the end zone. He shed a tackle early and got a block from receiver Brandin Cooks near the goal line.
"It's a play we've been working on all week," he said. "What's crazy is in practice we kind of couldn't get it right. In the game it worked out perfect."
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil was asked what he saw on the play.
"I knew it was a touchdown," he said.
Pierce has 313 yards rushing this year and has been the breakout performer on this struggling team. Thanks to him, Houston has greatly improved a running game that ended the last two seasons ranked near the bottom of the league.
He is the fifth rookie running back in the last five seasons to have 300 yards rushing or more in the first four weeks of the season.
"He's going to get better every week as long as we're doing what we've got to do up front to open up some holes for him," right tackle Tytus Howard said.
Pierce gave credit for his success to his offensive line.
"Shout out to the big five, man," he said. "I ain't nothing without them."
The Texans were behind 27-7 at halftime before scoring 17 straight points to cut the lead to a field goal in the fourth quarter, but Houston got no closer.
While Pierce is thrilled with his work so far this season, he's disappointed that it hasn't led to his first NFL win. But he saw signs on Sunday that the Texans (0-3-1) are improving.
"It's tough," he said. "But one thing about this game ... I saw a lot of flashes of a team that we're capable of being and things we have to build off of. We'll try to look at the good and not too much at the bad. I feel like we can be a pretty great football team moving forward."
Unfortunately, quarterback Davis Mills continued to struggle Sunday, throwing two interceptions for the second straight week. His first one came on the third play of the game and led to the first touchdown by Los Angeles.
He played better in the second half but couldn't get the Texans in the end zone after they recovered a fumble on the Chargers 16 in the fourth quarter. He was sacked and fumbled on second down on that drive. The Texans recovered his fumble, but he threw an incompletion on third down that forced the team to settle for a field goal.
"We just have to find ways in those situations to execute at our jobs," Mills said. "One little slip-up can end a drive, so we just have to make sure all 11 people out there on the field are doing their jobs every play."
Mills was 26-of-35 for 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with the two INTs in Sunday's loss and he also threw a pair of interceptions in Houston's Week 3 loss to the Bears, but those turnovers aren't leading Smith to consider pulling Mills from the lineup.
At his Monday press conference, Smith credited Mills with getting the Texans back in the game when they were down 27-7 at halftime and said there's no thought of playing anyone else.
"We're not making a change at the quarterback position," Smith said.
Kyle Allen is the No. 2 quarterback in Houston, so it's not like there's a particularly appealing option waiting in the wings. That could change next year if the team is unconvinced that Mills is the right guy for the long term, but those decisions won't be made for some time.
Next up, Mills and the Texans will need to clean up their miscues and find a way to finish if they hope to win at Jacksonville (2-2) on Sunday. ...
And finally. ... The Texans are cutting veteran starting tight end Pharaoh Brown, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports.
Brown missed the loss to the Chargers due to hip and shoulder injuries.
Without Brown, the Texans can lean on tight ends O.J. Howard, who has two touchdowns, Jordan Akins, who has scored once in two games in standard elevations from the practice squad, and Brevin Jordan, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury.
Jordan did no practice Wednesday; I'll have more on his progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Texans Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: C.J. Stroud, Davis Mills, Case Keenum
RBs: Dameon Pierce, Devin Singletary, Mike Boone, Dare Ogunbowale
WRs: Nico Collins, Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Tank Dell, Xavier Hutchinson, Noah Brown
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Teagan Quitoriano, Brevin Jordan
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Head coach Frank Reich continues to insist Indianapolis needs to be a run-first team. His approach generally worked during his first four seasons. Now, though, everything seems to be out of sync.
New quarterback Matt Ryan is struggling with turnovers, a revamped offensive line has not met expectations, and a young, unproven group of receivers continues to battle inconsistency. Worst of all, Indy's strong ground game has hit a rut.
"If you go back and look at all our runs on first down, a lot of second-and-longs and some third-and-longs," Reich said Monday. "I feel very confident we're going to get the run game going. We have a good process, the way we scheme plays, the way we teach it, the players we have. We're making adjustments to players. You guys know how we say it, it takes all 11 in the run game."
So far, Indy (1-2-1) has been unable to overcome the mounting obstacles.
Jonathan Taylor, last year's NFL rushing champ, has one 100-yard game and scored once in the season's first month while averaging a meager 3.34 yards per carry over the past three weeks.
And after a toe injury limited his practice time last week, Taylor left Sunday's 24-17 loss to Tennessee with an ankle injury.
The good news?
Tests on Taylor's ankle were negative.
The bad news?
With a Thursday game against the Broncos coming, the team isn't taking any chances. The Colts on Wednesday ruled Taylor out this week.
Taylor said on Tuesday he hoped to play and was doing everything he could to get on the field, but acknowledged there was a chance he couldn't get there on a short week.
Taylor took a hit to the lower leg on the fourth-quarter play on which he fumbled during Sunday's loss to the Titans. He had 20 carries for 42 yards before leaving the game.
Taylor added that a turf toe injury that limited him during practice last week has improved.
"Definitely still dealing with that, but it's in a good spot now," Taylor said. "The main thing right now is getting that ankle back to 100 percent."
With Taylor out, the Colts will likely split time between Nyheim Hines and former Bronco Phillip Lindsay.
But it's worth noting the running game hasn't been great even with Taylor, who hasn't posted a run longer than 21 yards since Week 1 and has struggled to find holes in 15 of Indy's 16 quarters.
On Sunday, he produced the third-lowest single-game per-carry average (2.1 yards) of his three-year career.
In fact, Indy ran 23 times for 38 yards against one of the league's lowest-ranked run defenses Sunday.
Reich knows those numbers -- and the overall ground game -- must improve quickly for the Colts to achieve their goals.
"A lot of times in the run game, they have sometimes one more guy than you and a lot of times your players are out-leveraged," he said. "The bottom line is it's all of us, right? We've got to coach it better, we've got to scheme it better, we've got to play better, we've got to get better leverage, we've got to be more physical."
Hines, who had just one carry, was adamant: "It's not about J.T.," he said, referring to Taylor. "J.T.'s done well. He's been grinding. But his supporting cast around him has to be better."
That's a fact. And that includes the quarterback.
As ESPN.com's Stephen Holder wrote, "It wasn't supposed to be this way for Ryan."
Holder went on to remind readers the Colts sold Ryan on offensive balance, great offensive line play, effective play-action -- all the primary ingredients of efficient quarterback play.
Instead, Ryan's reality since joining the Colts via a trade with the Falcons has been much the opposite -- a one-dimensional offense, a flailing offensive line and nonexistent play-action.
And, now, Ryan has yet another obstacle to contend with: His own inexplicable lack of ball security.
Ryan fumbled twice more on Sunday (losing one) against the Titans, giving him nine fumbles for the season. That's the most fumbles by a player in his team's first four games since Kurt Warner accomplished the dubious feat in 2006 with the Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan also threw his fifth interception of the season, contributing further to the Colts' ugly minus-6 turnover margin. The Colts have never finished with a negative turnover ratio in Reich's four previous seasons, but now rank among the worst teams in the NFL in that regard.
"Turnovers are ... one of, if not the, most important one or two most critical stats when it comes to winning ballgames or at least giving yourself a chance to win," Ryan said. "I've got to do a better job protecting it. We collectively have to do a better job protecting it."
The turnovers are making it difficult to accurately assess Ryan's play.
For every downfield completion -- and there were many on Sunday, including a 44-yard strike to rookie receiver Alec Pierce -- there seemingly is a deflating fumble or interception from Ryan that overshadows it.
Ryan, to be fair, has been roughed up this season because of the Colts' startlingly poor offensive-line play. The unit has been so subpar that the Colts replaced right guard Danny Pinter on Sunday with 2021 seventh-round pick Will Fries.
But hanging onto the football in adverse situations is a central part of a quarterback's job.
And few quarterbacks know what that's like more than Ryan, who has been sacked 465 times in his 15 seasons. Both Ryan's fumbles on Sunday happened in sack scenarios.
But here again, judging Ryan becomes a delicate dance. He has, at times, looked uncomfortable and uncertain in the pocket. That's odd for a quarterback who has always displayed good pocket presence. It's hard not to wonder if some of this results from problems with pass protection, which was admittedly a bit better on Sunday.
"It's been a very uncharacteristic four-game stretch," Ryan said. "It's something I've got to clean up and got to be better at. Find a way this week. I think if we can put together a clean game, just go out there and put together a clean game where we're not turning it over, executing the way we can, I think we can be very good."
"So far," Holder added, "saying it and actually doing it have been two very different things for the Colts. ..."
Other notes of interest. ... Over the past two weeks, Jelani Woods and Mo Alie-Cox have combined for four TD catches and Kylen Granson has produced some big plays, too. The combined total for this trio against Tennessee: 11 receptions, 180 yards, two TDs.
In addition, Ryan looked Pierce's way six times, completing four of those passes for 80 yards, including the above-mentioned 44-yard heave Pierce hauled in Sunday. Pierce has earned that increased trust by being at the right spot at the right time in the routes that are called, in addition to his go-up-and-get-it ability on contested deep balls.
"A lot of times we're getting softer coverage and zone the last couple weeks," Pierce said. "We talk about depth, timing, accuracy -- DTA, that's Matt's big thing. So my part is really the depth and the timing."
In the larger picture of the Colts' offense, the emergence of Pierce and Woods has provided some encouraging signs to Reich about what the passing game can do in 2022.
Against the Titans, the Colts also got key contributions in the passing game from wide receiver Parris Campbell (four catches, 43 yards) as well as the tight ends. ...
Elsewhere on the injury front the Colts have ruled out two key defenders with concussion symptoms ahead of Thursday night's matchup with the Denver Broncos.
All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard and defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis will not play after sustaining concussions in Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans, coach Frank Reich said. Asked whether the decision was made independent of the NFL's concussion protocol, Reich confirmed the team made a unilateral decision to keep the players sidelined.
"These decisions were already made that they will be out, even if there was some miraculous (recovery)," Reich said.
And finally. ... The Colts signed kicker Chase McLaughlin to the 53-player roster from the practice squad on Tuesday, the team announced. Indianapolis waived receiver Dezmon Patmon in a corresponding move.
The Colts signed McLaughlin to the practice squad to replace Rodrigo Blankenship, who missed a 42-yard game-winner with 1:57 left in overtime against the Texans in Week 1. But McLaughlin is out of standard activations, having kicked in the past three games, so the Colts had to sign him to the active roster to make him eligible for the game day roster.
The Colts selected Patmon in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. He has appeared in 10 career games and has four catches for 45 yards and one touchdown.
In 2022, Patmon has appeared in one game and has two receptions for 24 yards.
You can access complete stats for the Colts Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Anthony Richardson, Gardner Minshew, Sam Ehlinger
RBs: Zack Moss, Deon Jackson, Jonathan Taylor, Evan Hull
WRs: Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Josh Downs, Isaiah McKenzie
TEs: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Will Mallory, Andrew Ogletree, Jelani Woods
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
According to the team's official website, "Doug Pederson remains confident. Very confident. ..."
A day after a turnover-plagued loss to the unbeaten and NFC East-leading Eagles, Pederson on Monday said he believes the right lessons will be learned. The Jaguars' head coach also said this:
The learning must happen sooner than later.
"There are teachable moments, but at the same time, you start running out of time," Pederson said Monday, a day after the 29-21 loss at a rainy Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. "Your season is moving along, is moving fast.
"We're into Week 5. We keep saying there's a lot of ball ahead of us and all that, but if we don't fix it, you're going to look up and say, 'I wish I could …' or that shoulda, woulda, coulda deal."
The Jaguars, after one-sided victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 and 3, slipped to 2-2 Sunday. They are tied with the Tennessee Titans for first place in the AFC South, followed by the Colts at 1-2-1 and the Houston Texans 0-3-1.
"We have a 24-hour rule, so we watched the film, and we're going to completely flush it," wide receiver Jamal Agnew said Monday. "We have to learn from the mistakes that we made, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to bounce back.
"We're a really good team. Especially when we're out there executing like we're supposed to be -- offense, defense, special teams -- we're going to be one of the best teams in this league. We've got to do the little things to get to that level to talk like that."
The Jaguars led 14-0 in the second quarter Sunday, but the Eagles scored the next 29 points before a late Jaguars touchdown. The Eagles rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries against a Jaguars defense that entered Week 4 ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing defense.
"They're disappointed," Pederson said. "They're mad. They're upset. I think they're starting to believe just how special they are, just how good they can be. Sometimes, we just have to get out of our own way and just go play."
Trevor Lawrence on Sunday completed 11 of 23 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns to Agnew but also committed five turnovers -- a third-quarter red-zone interception with the Jaguars trailing 20-14 and four lost fumbles. Three fumbles led to Eagles touchdowns and the last came on first-and-10 with 1:54 remaining and the Jaguars at their 21 trailing by the final margin.
"Let's hope it's a blip," Pederson said. "I don't think it's a setback. I think it's a blip. You hate to say it, but maybe it's one of those games in the season where just nothing goes right. It happens. I never make excuses. We have to do a better job of hanging onto the football. He knows that. That's the prize possession out there. If we make the plays that were left on the field, it might be a different outcome today."
Pederson said the Jaguars will discuss with Lawrence using gloves designed for wet conditions.
"It's an individual preference," Pederson said. "It's nothing I would force him to wear. But it's something to have that conversation if we know we're going to be in bad weather. We just have to focus on two hands on the ball and just making sure we do everything in our power to keep it in our hands."
Pederson on Monday was asked if having a late chance to beat an unbeaten team on the road despite five turnovers might be a "learning opportunity" for a young team and a young quarterback.
"Obviously, it is what it is," Pederson said. "We lost the football game. But when you look at it, there were plays to be made. Our guys will learn to make them as we go. In time, they will learn to do that. There are very teachable moments for us as an offense, for a team -- even defensively.
"At the end of the day, that's a playoff team that we still had chances of beating. Unfortunately, we didn't."
The Jaguars will try to get back on track this Sunday when they host divisional rival Houston.
Also of interest. ... The Jaguars on Sunday were without wide receiver Zay Jones, who entered the weekend questionable with an ankle injury.
Jones had 19 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown in Weeks 1-3 and led the Jaguars with 10 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown in a Week 3 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
"I think it was more him physically," Pederson said when asked if the conditions factored in Jones not playing. "He tried to run on it pregame and it was sort of a game-time decision. I'm a big believer if a player isn't feeling it mentally, you just don't want to risk it. You don't want to put him out there in the elements. It's only Week 4. There's a lot of football ahead of us still. I just didn't want to put him in a situation that could set him back.
Hopefully, we will get him back this week."
I'll have more on Jones' status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
But his absence appeared to have an undesired rippled effect, as it was not a great day for Christian Kirk (8 PPF fantasy points).
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, only 48 percent of Kirk's routes came from the slot, where Kirk is historically far more productive.
Agnew was stealing slot work with Kirk working more outside and posted 21 fantasy points.
Meanwhile, McFarland also noted the trailing game script we have feared for James Robinson hit in Philadelphia as he finished with 2 fantasy points. Robinson only played 47 percent of the snaps and handled 42 percent of rushing attempts.
Travis Etienne Jr. handled most of the long-down-distance work and all of the two-minute offense, but only scored 3 fantasy points.
You can access complete stats for the Jaguars Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Rourke
RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., Tank Bigsby, JaMycal Hasty, D'Ernest Johnson, Snoop Conner
WRs: Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Jamal Agnew, Parker Washington, Tim Jones, Kendric Pryor
TEs: Evan Engram, Brenton Strange, Luke Farrell, Elijah Cooks
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta noted, one week after Kansas City could do little right in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs could seemingly do no wrong in a 41-31 blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.
On offense, Mahomes conjured more improvisational magic in throwing for 249 yards and three touchdowns, including a did-you-see-that jump pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire during a big first half.
And on the ground, Edwards-Helaire and Isiah Pacheco sliced through one of the league's best run defenses to the tune of 189 yards and two more TDs.
On defense, the Chiefs held Leonard Fournette -- who dominated them in a Super Bowl triumph in Raymond James Stadium less than two years ago -- and the rest of the Tampa Bay running attack to 3 yards total.
"Listen, we stunk it up last week. We all knew that. We admitted it to you. We didn't play the way we should play," head coach Andy Reid said.
"The guys cleaned it up, which is important. If this becomes an ongoing issue, then you're not going to win a lot of games. So, it was important that the guys put their foot down and did what they did."
"We didn't play our best football last week. And in this league if you don't play good, you're going to lose," said Mahomes, who also had 34 yards scrambling. "That's a good football team. To come to their house and find a way to score some points and find a way to win, I mean it gets you -- hopefully -- gets you kick started into the rest of this year."
Even the special teams were vastly improved from the previous week, when a fumbled punt return, missed field goal, missed extra point and a series of lousy kickoff returns conspired against Kansas City in what became a 20-17 loss to the Colts.
The biggest play on Sunday night came on the opening kickoff, when the coverage team stripped the ball from Buccaneers returner Rachaad White and recovered the fumble.
The Chiefs needed just two plays for Mahomes to find Travis Kelce in the end zone, effectively giving the Chiefs -- who were due to get the kickoff to start the second half -- a 7-0 head-start in the game.
It was more than that, though.
New fill-in kicker Matthew Wright hit both of his field goals and all five of his PATs while the Chiefs gave Harrison Butker another week to rest his sprained ankle. Pacheco averaged more than 30 yards on three kickoff returns. And punt returner Skyy Moore picked up 12 yards while cleanly fielding his opportunities.
Skretta went on to note the Chiefs have been nearly unbeatable under Reid when they run for at least 100 yards, and they had that by halftime in Tampa Bay.
Edwards-Helaire carried 19 times for 92 yards and a score while Pacheco, a seventh-round pick who has been a big bright spot, carried 11 times for 63 yards and was rarely brought down on first contact.
But they're also pretty good when Mahomes is on point. He was on point against the Bucs, a game highlighted by the aforementioned magical second-quarter touchdown throw to Edwards-Helaire.
Mahomes has made countless incredible plays and throws since he became a starting quarterback in 2018. Reid said Monday that he's essentially told the players to not ever let it get old to them.
"I talked to the guys, like I mentioned last night, [and told them] just don't take it for granted," Reid said in his Monday news conference. "These things are special, some of these things we're seeing from him, so appreciate them but it's unique so enjoy every one of them. But it's not something that a lot of people have that advantage of being a part of.
"With that, I mean that throw was incredible. The throw to Kelce is the one that might get looked over a little bit down the middle of the field. I mean that throw and that catch were ridiculous and there were a couple other ones in there that were really good. I mean the one naked play where he kind of hung onto it on third down and threw it up to JuJu Smith-Schuster, I mean that was another good one. He had a very good game and I know the stats show that and some of the things he's done historically have made history and [he] will continue to do that."
Reid added the best thing about Mahomes is that he's always trying to get better.
"That's what I appreciate the most," Reid said. "I mean he's not sitting there patting himself on the back. He keeps moving forward and wanting to get even better."
Mahomes finished the game 23-of-37 passing for 249 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Mahomes, who was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, has nine passing TDs this season to backs or tight ends, four more than any other quarterback.
The Chiefs' next test will be against the Raiders next week on Monday night.
It will be only the second home game of the season for Kansas City, but the first of two straight with the Bills also on the horizon. ...
A few final items here. ... Kelce led all pass-catchers with nine grabs for 92 yards and a touchdown in the game, hauling in four of those receptions on third down to move the chains. Specifically, his 22-yard reception on third down early in the fourth quarter helped set up a 32-yard field goal that essentially put the game out of reach.
Kelce's four first-down grabs on third down matched the most by any player in a single game this year.
He also notched a major milestone on Sunday night, moving into fifth-place all-time in terms of receiving yards by a tight end (9,328). Only Tony Gonzalez (15,127), Jason Witten (13,046), Antonio Gates (11,841) and Shannon Sharpe (10,060) tallied more career receiving yards among tight ends in NFL history.
Furthermore, the aforementioned 22-yard reception marked the 130th 20-yard grab of Kelce's career, matching Gonzalez for the most in franchise history.
Tight ends Noah Gray and Jody Fortson each found the end zone as well.
Kelce was on the receiving end of Mahomes' first touchdown pass -- a 16-yard scoring strike -- that followed a fumble recovery on the game's opening kickoff.
Gray then plunged ahead for a 1-yard score late in the second quarter, motioning under center before taking the snap and diving forward into the end zone. Fortson, meanwhile, caught a 10-yard strike from Mahomes late in the third quarter. Fortson now has seven career catches, four of which have been touchdowns. ...
Finally. ... Sunday was the first game of Edwards-Helaire's career in which he scored a rushing and a receiving touchdown. He now has a team-leading 325 yards from scrimmage through four games this season.
You can access complete stats for the Chiefs Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Blaine Gabbert
RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WRs: Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Justyn Ross, Justin Watson, Richie James
TEs: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Blake Bell, Jody Fortson
Las Vegas RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Head coach Josh McDaniels wanted to establish a physical tone early after three straight losses. He opted to take the ball after winning the coin toss and put the game in Josh Jacobs' hands.
After a pass-heavy game plan through the first three losses, Vegas pounded the rock with Jacobs, who set a career high with 144 rushing yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns in a 32-23 win over the Denver Broncos.
"He's one of the best runners that I've ever been around," McDaniels said of Jacobs. "Take that for what it's worth. I've been around some good ones. He has a great ability to make yards after contact. He has a great ability to make yards even if there's not a lot there right away."
As NFL.com's Kevin Patra suggested, Jacobs has silenced the preseason questions about his role in the offense.
"The back was a bulldozer, pummeling through arm tackles carry after carry on Sunday," Patra added.
Per Next Gen Stats, Jacobs had 18 totes for 110 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and two TDs on runs inside the tackles, his first career game with 100-plus rushing yards between the tackles.
"What's crazy is I know when I'm in the zone because everything slows down, and it feels almost like I'm running slow," Jacobs said. "But then I look at the film and I'm like, 'OK, I did what I was supposed to do.' But, like, a lot of times I know when I'm in the zone because a guy hits me, I don't even feel him."
The Raiders entered Sunday 0-3, a record that includes Vegas blowing a 20-point lead to Arizona in Week 2. Jacobs wouldn't let them lose the lead again.
After Denver closed the gap to 25-23 with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Vegas saddled Jacobs on a 10-play, 75-yard TD drive that put the game away. Jacobs touched the ball on five of the final seven snaps of the drive, including a 7-yard score.
"When it came to the end of the game, I knew we had another possession where we would need to get a first down and do whatever we do," Jacobs said. "And I just went over there and talked to the guys. I'm like, 'This is what we do. We ask for this.' The last few weeks we'd been in this same position and it didn't go how we wanted it to. It felt good to come together as a unit and accomplish the goal that we set out to do."
Jacobs has loved playing the Broncos. He's recorded three 100-plus rushing yard games against Denver -- the only team in which the back has multiple 100-yard games. It also marked his fourth game with two-plus rushing TDs against the Broncos, second-most all-time versus Denver, behind only LaDainian Tomlinson (7).
"They say something about rivals: They bring the best out of you," Jacobs said. "I guess that's what it tends to do for me."
Worth noting: Jacobs played on 89 percent of snaps against the Broncos -- a career-high and only the second time he has topped 80 percent.
Meanwhile, the Raiders came through with big plays on both sides of the ball late after a handful of mishaps led to three straight one-score losses to open McDaniel's first season in Las Vegas.
"The things he emphasized in the game, we did it in practice and then we did it in the game, and we won," quarterback Derek Carr said. "So, I think it validates to the whole room, we got this formula each week and if we know the keys to victory and we do them in practice, we're going to do them in the game and it will help us win."
The victory was the first as a head coach for McDaniels in 4,341 days since his final win for Denver in 2010.
"I don't want to make this about me; this is just our team trying to hold our home turf here against another division opponent," he said.
Next up, the Raiders visit Kansas City on Monday night, looking for their second road win against the Chiefs in their last nine trips to Arrowhead. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Carr used his legs to run for a career-high five first downs. Two came on short-yardage sneaks and three more on scrambles as he ran for 40 yards in all. It marked just the third time in the past 20 seasons that a Raiders QB generated at least five first downs in a game, with Marcus Mariota getting eight in 2020 against the Chargers and Daunte Culpepper five in 2007 against Miami. ...
Davante Adams caught nine of 13 targets for 101 yards in this one. He also added four yards on one carry.
Adams continues to enjoy his reunion with Carr, topping 100 receiving yards in two of four games as a Raider so far, and his volume was especially impressive in this one as Carr managed to throw for only 188 yards in total on the afternoon.
Adams saw his TD streak end at three games to begin the season.
Darren Waller caught 3-of-5 targets for 24 yards and Mack Hollins caught 3-of-5 targets for 33 yards with Hunter Renfrow missing a second-straight game due to a concussion suffered against the Cardinals in Week 2.
According to McDaniels, Renfrow (concussion) and TE Foster Moreau (knee) could be back this week; Renfrow was on the practice field Wednesday; I'll have more on their status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
Also on the injury front. ... LB Denzel Perryman is in concussion protocol after getting hurt in the first half.
You can access complete stats for the Raiders Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer, Aidan O'Connell
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Bolden
WRs: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Carter, Tre Tucker, Kristian Wilkerson
TEs: Austin Hooper, Michael Mayer, Jesper Horsted
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Any concerns about how Justin Herbert might continue to look while dealing with a rib injury likely disappeared after he led the Los Angeles Chargers to a 34-24 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Entering Monday, the third-year quarterback leads the league with 1,250 passing yards through the first four weeks of the season. He directed the Chargers to scores on five of their first six possessions en route to passing for 340 yards and two touchdowns.
Herbert bounced back after struggling in last week's 38-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After practicing only one day leading up to the Jaguars game, Herbert did not miss a day leading up to Houston, and came off the injury report after going through all the team drills on Friday. Herbert suffered fractured rib cartilage after taking a hard hit during the fourth quarter of the Sept. 15 game at Kansas City.
"Out of all of the things that he did yesterday, I thought that he led our football team beautifully. I thought that he affected his teammates as well as I've seen him, since I've been the head coach," head coach Brandon Staley said.
"Beyond his performance on the field, I thought that he led our football team at a really high level yesterday."
Herbert completed 27 of 39 passes and had a 113.2 passer rating. It was the 19th 300-yard game of his career, tying Andrew Luck for most by a player in his first three seasons, and his seventh straight on the road.
Also helping Herbert to feel more confident was a solid game from the offensive line and the running game showing some signs of production.
Rookie Jamaree Salyer was solid in his first game at left tackle as Herbert was sacked only once and pressured eight other times in 40 drop-backs.
The running game averaged only 3.0 yards per carry, but is starting to show some signs of production. Austin Ekeler had a season-high 60 yards, with four of his 13 carries going for 10 yards or more. Ekeler also scored the Chargers' first two rushing touchdowns of the season and he added another one receiving.
Los Angeles (2-2) will need consistent production from Salyer and the running game again. Salyer was already watching film of Cleveland's pass rushing duo of Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, who both missed last Sunday's 23-20 loss in Atlanta because of injuries.
"I'm excited to get into it, kind of closing the chapter on this last game. That's kind of what today is around here. I'm excited for the challenge," Salyer said. "I've never shied away from any challenge, shied away from any person. I'm excited for the challenge and look forward to it."
Next up, the Chargers head to Cleveland for a matchup against the Browns. Los Angeles has won the past three meetings, including 47-42 last season when it rallied from a 27-13 deficit early in the third quarter. The game will be a homecoming for Staley, who grew up less than an hour away in Perry, Ohio. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Receiver Mike Williams had a season-high 120 yards on seven receptions as Keenan Allen missed his third straight game because of a hamstring injury. Williams has an AFC-high eight 100-yard receiving games on the road since 2019.
Entering Monday, he also has a league-leading 12 receptions of at least 40 yards over the past three seasons on passes thrown by Herbert.
Gerald Everett continued his strong play, catching 5-of-6 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. ...
On the injury front. ... After losing a pair of starters to major injuries last week, the Chargers came out of Houston relatively healthy. Receiver Josh Palmer (foot) and DL Sebastian Joseph-Day (finger) are expected to be OK.
Staley called Allen "day-to-day" on Monday, and it's unclear whether he'll return in Week 5.
If Allen were to miss his fourth straight game, Williams and Everett remain must-starts, and Palmer remains a borderline WR3. If Allen does return, Williams and Everett should be in fantasy manager's starting lineups regardless, while Palmer is likely relegated to the bench.
I'll have more on Allen, who was not on the practice field Wednesday, Palmer and PK Dustin Hopkins, who is dealing with a quad issue, via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant in coming days. ...
One last note here. ... Even without an injured Joey Bosa, the Chargers pass rush rebounded with four sacks and pressured Texans quarterback Davis Mills 15 times. Khalil Mack had one sack, two quarterback hits and three pressures. Entering Monday, Mack is tied for second in the league with five sacks and has 11 sacks in 11 games since the start of last season. He played in only seven games for Chicago last season before having season-ending foot surgery.
But the run defense is allowing 5.42 yards per carry, second highest in the league. Dameon Pierce's 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter is the third time they have allowed a carry of at least 30 yards. They allowed three last season.
You can access complete stats for the Chargers Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Herbert, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson
WRs: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Quentin Johnston, Josh Palmer, Jalen Guyton, Derius Davis
TEs: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Tre' McKitty, Stone Smartt
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp was the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year last year, and this year he may be playing at an even higher level. But the rest of the Rams' offense is struggling.
The Rams' offense did not score a touchdown in Monday night's 24-9 loss to the 49ers, and head coach Sean McVay was not happy with how many mental mistakes he saw.
The Rams (2-2) were held to 257 yards and three field goals, marking the fifth time they failed to score a touchdown in any game under McVay in the regular season or playoffs. It marked their seventh straight regular-season loss to the Niners (2-2), although they did win the most important matchup in last season's NFC championship game on the way to a Super Bowl title.
It was a far different result this time.
"The story of the night from an offensive perspective was self-inflicted wounds, above-the-neck errors where we're not doing the things we're capable of, and I expect us to be better than that," McVay said.
Although McVay didn't criticize quarterback Matthew Stafford directly, it was clear that Stafford was struggling. He threw a pick-six, lost a fumble, got sacked seven times and managed just 5.3 yards per pass.
Stafford is now leading the NFL with six interceptions this season, and the defending champion Rams are just 2-2 on the season.
The pick-six was the 28th of Stafford’s career, tying him with Hall of Famer Joe Namath for the third-most thrown by any player since 1950. Stafford also failed to throw a touchdown pass for a second straight game, the first time he's done so in consecutive contests since Weeks 15-16 of the 2016 season.
Generally speaking, Stafford is playing much worse than he was a year ago: He's averaging just 6.8 yards per pass after averaging 8.1 last year, he's throwing interceptions on 4 percent of his passes compared to 2.8 percent last year, his touchdowns have declined to 2.7 percent of his passes this year after 6.8 percent last year, and he's getting sacked twice as often, at 9.6 percent of his dropbacks after 4.8 percent last year.
Meanwhile, after another excellent game, Kupp now has 42 catches for 402 yards this season, putting him on pace for an astounding 179 catches, which would shatter the NFL single-season record of 149.
That's the good news for the Rams' offense. The bad news is, well, everything else.
The Rams' other wide receivers -- Ben Skowronek, Allen Robinson and Brandon Powell -- have combined for just 26 catches for 278 yards. That means Kupp has 62 percent of the Rams' wide receiver catches, and 59 percent of the Rams' wide receiver yards.
The Rams thought they had upgraded at wide receiver by signing Robinson and trading Robert Woods to the Titans, but Woods has played better in Tennessee than Robinson has in Los Angeles.
The Rams' running game isn't helping: They rank 30th in the NFL in rushing yards, 29th in yards per carry and 28th in rushing first downs.
Add it all up, and the Rams' offense is a mess from top to bottom, with Kupp the one exception.
All that said, Kupp remains optimistic going forward.
"Without a doubt it's fixable," said Kupp. "These kind of games hurt. It's a gut punch to walk off the field and don't accomplish what you have worked so hard to accomplish."
This marked the fourth time in the past six regular-season meetings that the Niners had a pick-6 against Los Angeles, with three of the scores coming in the same end zone at Levi's Stadium.
Fred Warner had one in 2019 and Ward did it last season. Javon Kinlaw had the fourth in Los Angeles in 2020.
For what it's worth, McVay was quick to say he's not going to make any excuses about injuries for the poor offensive play or the pressure Stafford felt all night.
But as ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop notes, the Rams are down five offensive linemen right now after center Coleman Shelton left the game with an ankle injury and have just two of their Week 1 starters currently healthy. It's also a credit to the 49ers' defensive front: Stafford was pressured 17 times on Monday night after being pressured only 11 times in his previous two games combined.
Next up, the Rams will try to regroup as they host the Rams on Sunday. ...
You can access complete stats for the Rams Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, Stetson Bennett
RBs: Kyren Williams, Zach Evans, Ronnie Rivers
WRs: Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, Van Jefferson, Demarcus Robinson, Ben Skowronek, Cooper Kupp
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Hunter Long, Davis Allen
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the New York Jets as he continues to progress through concussion protocol, head coach Mike McDaniel said Monday.
There's no "definite timeline" for Tagovailoa's return after he left the Dolphins' 27-15 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. Teddy Bridgewater will start Sunday in his place.
Tagovailoa was taken to a local hospital after his head hit the turf late in the second half of Thursday's game in Cincinnati. He was diagnosed with a concussion but was discharged from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and allowed to fly home with the team early Friday morning. McDaniel said Tagovailoa's scans came back "clean" -- including the MRI he underwent in Miami -- but it's still too early to start thinking about his return to the field.
"Right now he is in the building. He's had a couple good days, but he's just trying to go through with the proper procedure and protocol so that he's feeling 100 percent," McDaniel said. "I know he's gonna be diligent with it. And if there's obviously any things that are giving him issues in terms of light and those things, then we will shut that down."
Tagovailoa was evaluated for a concussion after a similar situation during the Dolphins' game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. He hit the back of his head on the ground and stumbled while trying to return to the huddle after the play. He was immediately taken to the locker room with a head injury, the team announced at the time.
He passed the locker room evaluation, however, and returned to finish the game after halftime with both Tagovailoa and the Dolphins clarifying that his stumble was caused by a back injury he suffered earlier in the game. The NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said Tagovailoa was tested daily leading up to Thursday's game, and McDaniel said his quarterback was cleared of any head injury by an independent neurologist.
The NFL Players Association initiated its right to request a review of the NFL's concussion protocol following his quick return to the game and terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who initially evaluated Tagovailoa during the Bills game. The NFL and NFLPA also committed to altering the concussion protocol based on what both parties learned during the review. McDaniel said he supports the changes to the protocol and reiterated his confidence in how Tagovailoa's injury was handled throughout the week.
McDaniel said he was not directly involved in Tagovailoa's evaluation process and that beyond making sure his players' best interests are kept in mind, he does not generally interject into matters that are outside his area of expertise.
"I'm very much involved in terms of that, that they're answering and giving me information. I don't think I should be involved in determining concussion symptoms outside of the obvious," he said. "One thing that we operate within this organization is they know first and foremost that the players' health and safety is above all else. The coaches know that's how we address things and the players know that as well. So mandating, and making sure, and being that extra voice of reason that says, 'Hey, we're not trying to ever push through something with unintended consequences being pushed to the player' -- I'll always stay involved in that way from an enforcer standpoint.
"But in terms of me interjecting into an opinion that we have people schooled in and years and years of expertise in, I think that would be a little irresponsible if I tried to kick the door in and say my piece as a layman who's not an expert."
Behind Bridgewater, the Dolphins have 2022 seventh-round draft pick Skylar Thompson and they signed Reid Sinnett, who spent the 2021 season with the Dolphins, to their practice squad Monday afternoon.
A former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, Bridgewater had also spent time with the Jets, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos before signing with Miami this offseason. He's won both games he played against the Jets in his career, completing 38 of 52 passes for 544 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
According to ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques, McDaniel expressed confidence in Bridgewater as the team's starter for however long this stint might last.
"We're very, very confident in Teddy Bridgewater. It's one of the reasons you decide to go that direction in an offseason and prioritize your backup quarterback is for these moments," McDaniel said. "We went out and signed him, and it's been one of the better things that could have happened to us for the team's dynamic -- for his contribution in how Tua is playing and his ability to play, as well as his part in the development of Skylar.
"So he's had a big role. Everyone's super confident in him. He's done it before; it's a different deal coming off the bench than starting. Teddy knows that and he'll be fully prepared and ready to go. I don't think the team will bat an eye when we lace 'em up on Sunday."
The good news here? The Dolphins continue getting the ball to their dynamic playmakers. Tyreek Hill caught 10 passes on 14 targets for 160 yards against the Bengals, including a 64-yard reception from Bridgewater that allowed Miami to take the lead in the third quarter. Per Next Gen Stats, that pass traveled 64.1 air yards.
But Bridgewater also threw a back-breaking interception on what could have been the Dolphins' go-ahead drive.
Still, Louis-Jacques believes with a defense that's playing better than the stats suggest, Bridgewater can theoretically keep the Dolphins in the playoff hunt while they exercise patience with Tagovailoa. ...
Other notes of interest. ... With receiver Cedrick Wilson inactive because of a rib injury, Trent Sherfield was productive as a No. 3 option behind Hill and Jaylen Waddle. He was targeted six times and caught four passes for 55 yards. Sherfield figures to remain in that role until Wilson is healthy.
One area that needs work?
According to Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames, it's the running game. Miami has one of the worst rushing offenses in the league. Raheem Mostert rushed 15 times for 80 yards against the Bengals, but Cincinnati only gained 85 total yards on the ground. ...
Elsewhere on the injury report. ... In addition to Tagovailoa's and Wilson's injuries, cornerback Xavien Howard suffered a groin injury in the third quarter. Howard had already been listed with a groin issue. Wilson worked fully on Wedneday while Waddle did not practice Wednesday with the same groin issue he played through last week.
I'll have more on Waddle via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
You can access complete stats for the Dolphins Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Mike White, Skylar Thompson
RBs: Raheem Mostert, Devon Achane, Salvon Ahmed, Chris Brooks, Jeff Wilson
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Erik Ezukanma
TEs: Durham Smythe, Julian Hill, Tyler Kroft
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Dave Campbell, the upside for the Minnesota Vikings is clear: They've finished the first quarter of their first season under new head coach Kevin O'Connell by managing to build a firm foundation with a 3-1 record.
Chemistry and confidence can go a long way toward winning -- O'Connell described it as "different types of resiliency" -- but there's no hiding that an experienced and talented offense he was hired to direct has left a whole lot of points on the field.
After escaping London with a 28-25 victory over New Orleans on Sunday that was aided by the luckiest of bounces, the Vikings found themselves ranked 26th in the NFL in red zone scoring. They've turned just seven of their 15 trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns for a 46.7 percent rate.
Sunday's game in London was won by their special teams -- place-kicker Greg Joseph kicked five field goals, including what proved to be the game winner from 47 yards out -- and was sealed only when Saints place-kicker Will Lutz hit the upright and crossbar from 61 yards away.
Meanwhile, the offense has been disjointed and has struggled to get snaps off before the play clock.
The sample size remains relatively small. Still, Campbell contends, no team with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook as the primary scoring threats should be settling for that many field goals.
"We definitely have to get in the end zone way more, just executing our plays," Jefferson said.
According to ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert, it's been a jagged start by their offense, due in large part to the play of Kirk Cousins.
The veteran quarterback made key throws to win games but has also flirted with -- and occasionally encountered -- disaster. If nothing else, Cousins' first four games have dispelled the fanciful notion that O'Connell would wave a magic wand, inducing instant elite-level performances from a quarterback who entered the season with a clear track record established through 120 career starts.
Cousins' Total Quarterback Rating (46.1) ranks No. 20 in the NFL. For the first time since he joined the team, his completion percentage above expectation -- an NFL Next Gen Stats statistic that measures quarterback performance relative to the level of difficulty of his throws -- is below zero (-2.5 percent) after four games.
In other words, he is completing fewer passes than an average quarterback would be expected to in the same situation.
Cousins has expressed full awareness of that reality, especially after needing fourth-quarter comebacks to pull out victories over the Saints and Lions the past two weeks. He said last week the offense is "not where I want it to be" and reiterated that sentiment Sunday.
"There's just a lot to clean up still," he said. "Similar to coming away after the Lions game with a win, you feel great about the win [over the Saints], but you also feel there's a lot you leave out there. We've got to get better. I've got to get better. That's where our focus is."
It's important to take a step back and put Cousins' performance in context, especially in light of an ongoing transition to O'Connell's complicated scheme. Using QBR as a measure, Cousins has had better starts to a Vikings season (2018, 2021) and he has had worse (2019, 2020). His four interceptions are tied for sixth most in the NFL, but in 2020, he had six by this point in the season.
He had more touchdown passes through four games in 2018 and 2021, but his current total of six is tied for No. 10 in the NFL during a down year for scoring league-wide.
O'Connell is the sixth playcaller Cousins has had in Minnesota and is still learning his rhythms. Asked Monday to assess the ups and downs of Cousins' performance, O'Connell noted that he has "been incredibly clutch when we've had to have it" and said: "It's still four weeks into a new offensive system to him."
He added: "I think Kirk is going to continue to be more consistent and make the throws that we ask him to make while running the show. ... I feel great about where Kirk is headed, and then there are obviously some things that we can coach harder, that I can coach better, to help him be at his best and truly start maximizing what we're going to become as an offense."
After Sunday's game, Cousins lamented a pass he threw behind Jefferson in the end zone during the third quarter, a possession that ultimately led to a field goal. Another play was perhaps more emblematic of the way Cousins and O'Connell's mindsets are still melding.
During Sunday's game, longtime NFL personnel executive Randy Mueller suggested via Twitter that the Vikings will be among the teams looking for a quarterback in the 2023 draft.
With 13 games remaining in the season, it's a bit early to draw dramatic conclusions. The most we can say at this point is that Cousins' performance this season has fit into the aggregate summary of his career -- for better and worse.
Next up, the Vikings host Chicago this Sunday, offering Cousins another shot to improve. ...
Other notes of interest. ... O'Connell awarded Jefferson a game ball, not only for the 10 receptions for 147 yards and 3-yard touchdown run, but for the way he worked through the frustration of a muted impact amid frequent double teams over the previous two games.
"I'm not being a virus to the team," Jefferson said. "If somebody's double-teaming me, I can't really do too much about that. That just shows you how much effect I have on the defensive side, just being a key player, just having them know where I'm at all times. ..."
Tight end Johnny Mundt has been starting ahead of Irv Smith Jr. and played a comparable amount of snaps (136 for Smith, 116 for Mundt), but he dropped a key pass on Sunday on third-and-1 at the 10 in the second quarter. Mundt and Smith are tied for the eighth-most drops in the league with two apiece, according to Sportradar data. ...
On the injury front. ... Cook played with a harness on his left shoulder, and Thielen left the game briefly with an injury to his right leg. Za'Darius Smith was limited to 24 of the 60 snaps for the defense after being listed as questionable with a left knee injury. He had one of Minnesota's two sacks.
I'll be watching for more on Cook and Thielen; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for any possible developments. ...
The Vikings on Tuesday officially placed rookie safety Lewis Cine on Injured Reserve.
Cine underwent successful surgery earlier in the day in London to repair a compound fracture he suffered Sunday in Minnesota's 28-25 win over the New Orleans Saints.
The 2022 first-round pick will remain in London until he is ready to return to Minnesota. O'Connell said Cine was in "great spirits."
Finally. ... As noted above, Joseph was called on to kick five field goals against the Saints and he nailed all five of them, including a 47-yarder with 24 seconds left to play.
On Wednesday, Joseph was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Joseph is 8-of-10 on field goals and 9-of-10 on extra points for the season. ...
You can access complete stats for the Vikings Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall
RBs: Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, Myles Gaskin, Cam Akers, C.J. Ham, Kene Nwangwu
WRs: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Nailor, Brandon Powell, N'Keal Harry
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
The Patriots spent their offseason trying to improve the personnel around quarterback Mac Jones, and then used the preseason to tweak their offense to best utilize the players they added.
After injuries in back-to-back weeks to Jones and backup Brian Hoyer, New England could head into this week's matchup with Detroit with its third starting quarterback in three games.
As Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower noted, third-stringer Bailey Zappe didn't do anything spectacular after Hoyer was sacked on his blind side by Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary in the first quarter on Sunday and left the game with a head injury.
Zappe kept his team in it, though, completing 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown to help the Patriots force overtime before falling 27-24 at Lambeau Field.
Zappe is the first player to throw a touchdown pass while making his NFL debut as a visitor at Lambeau Field.
"I think we all know what a backup quarterback's potential job and role is," head coach Bill Belichick said. "Bailey knows it, we know it, everybody that plays that position knows it. That's what happened and he stepped in. He was well prepared. I thought, generally, he handled himself well. Certainly, things he can improve on. ... But I thought he did a solid job."
Teammates were impressed with the effort.
"I want to give a huge shoutout to Zappe, the way he stepped up in that game," veteran linebacker Matthew Judon said. "I don't believe he took that many reps with the [starters in practice], and the way he played and the poise he had, that's amazing for a rookie. That's good for our team."
Added receiver Kendrick Bourne: "Really relaxed. It seemed like he was ready for the moment -- to play in Lambeau Field, crazy crowd. I was proud of that dude. That was really impressive."
Zappe also met with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on the field after the game.
"He just said, 'Good luck the rest of the way,' and I said the same thing for him. He said, 'Congrats for playing for the first time' and that was about it. ..."
Great effort notwithstanding, the Patriots fell to 1-3 for the second straight season. New England is last in the AFC East for the first time since losing its opener in 2014. But Zappe's play and a better overall performance by the offensive line gave New England hope it can remain competitive if Hoyer and Jones, who has an ankle injury, remain sidelined.
Still, Zappe said during a Monday appearance on WEEI that he isn't trying to handle things any differently this week because of the possibility that he'll be starting.
"Really, I'm just treating it like every other week. I'm preparing ever day like I have the last three or four weeks," Zappe said, via Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. "I'm going to continue to work with my teammates, work with my coaches, and continue to watch film, get into the game plan, and get ready for whatever role it is for me on Sunday."
In his Monday morning videoconference, Belichick said Hoyer traveled home with the team after the game but didn't disclose more specifics on his status. Jones got on the practice field last Friday, but it's not really clear how close -- or not -- he is to returning to action.
The Patriots don't have a quarterback on their practice squad, so they will likely need to bring someone in to back Zappe up this week unless they are convinced that Jones will be cleared to play in the coming days.
Reports on Tuesday indicated Garrett Gilbert will likely be the QB added to the practice squad.
Meanwhile, New England's running game helped take pressure off Zappe.
Damien Harris rushed 18 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Rhamondre Stevenson finished with 66 yards on 14 carries. The Patriots rank third in the AFC, averaging 128.5 yards rushing per game.
The good news here?
New England is preparing for a Lions team that's allowing a league-high 444.8 yards and 35.3 points per game.
On the injury front. ... Hoyer wasn't the only Patriots player to leave the game because of an injury, as tight end Jonnu Smith limped off late in the second quarter and went to the locker room for evaluation. He was ruled out with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Smith has been diagnosed with a low-ankle sprain and is considered week-to-week at the moment.
I'll have more on the QB situation -- Jones was on the field Wednesday and reportely moved well while Hoyer sat out, Smith and Jakobi Meyers, who missed a second-straight game with a knee injury, as the week progresses. ...
You can access complete stats for the Patriots Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mac Jones, Matt Corral
RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliott
WRs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Kayshon Boutte, Demario Douglas, Matt Slater, Tyquan Thornton
TEs: Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
According to ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell, head coach Dennis Allen was sure Wil Lutz's 61-yard field goal attempt was good Sunday.
Lutz had already made a 60-yarder in the fourth quarter, and as the second kick had the distance, Allen raised his arms up to signal its success. Moments later, he lowered his arms to his head and frowned, watching Lutz's improbable kick hit one upright, then the crossbar, before finally spinning away as time expired at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
That was the story of the Saints (1-3), as they fell 28-25 to the Minnesota Vikings (3-1), and the season so far: Hope followed by despair, with a lot of bad football played in between. Even a change at quarterback -- Andy Dalton started in place of an injured Jameis Winston -- couldn't fix the team's problems.
"Felt like I operated the offense really well. Felt like we played well. Felt like at the end of the day, the two turnovers decided the factor in this game," Dalton said. "And it's tough, because you go back and you look at this game, and feel like you played really well and you can go back and look at it and say, 'Man, if I could just have one play back.' But that's kind of the story of this thing. It's tough. But I thought we definitely did some good things out there."
Turnovers, penalties and slow starts have doomed the Saints in three straight losses.
They've scored three combined points in the first quarter of those games, and they've given the ball away freely, already eclipsing their 2021 fumble total with six this season.
In fact, the Saints entered the loss to the Vikings trailing the league in net turnover differential and fumbled two more times. Their 11 turnovers are their most through four games since the 2007 season, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
The Saints have lamented the turnovers frequently this season after several of them have been potential game-changers.
Mark Ingram's fumble against the Buccaneers robbed the Saints of an opportunity to score, and Alvin Kamara's fumble against the Panthers was returned for a touchdown. Fumbles by Dalton and kick returner Deonte Harty gave the Vikings short fields that led to two field goals Sunday.
"I think we have to make a point of emphasis about it," said Allen, who's in his first year as head coach of the Saints. "I think we also have to look at who is doing what and where."
Sunday's result against the Vikings showed the Saints' problems are bigger than a simple fix. Even if they wanted to look at starting some new players, they don't exactly have other options to turn to at the moment.
They're already down several offensive starters -- obviously with Winston, wide receiver Michael Thomas is out with a toe injury and Kamara is out with a rib injury.
Meanwhile, Allen isn't ready to commit to starting Winston or Dalton at quarterback for his increasingly desperate team's next game.
"The first thing we need to do is find out where Jameis is health-wise before we make any decisions," Allen said Monday. "I don't have complete information on that as we sit here today."
Dalton did well enough in London to earn measured praise from his coach.
"Overall I thought he operated the offense efficiently, particularly the way we played in the second half," Allen said. "I thought he was pretty good once we were able to kind of get the run and the play-action going."
Without Thomas and Kamara in the lineup, Dalton completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4 percent) for 236 yards and a touchdown without an interception -- but also took two sacks and fumbled on one of them.
During the previous three games, Winston completed 63.5 percent of his passes, took 11 sacks, and threw five interceptions and four TD passes. But Winston also demonstrated, albeit inconsistently, an ability to connect on big passing plays, particularly to rookie Chris Olave.
The sample size isn't terribly big for either quarterback, and their performances can be influenced by how the offensive line matches up with certain defensive fronts, which skill players are available and how they perform on a given day.
But the Saints need to do something to change their fortunes, and Allen made it sound as though pretty much everyone is under scrutiny.
The Saints will spend the next two weeks at home, which hasn't necessarily been advantageous for them since last season. New Orleans has lost six of its past eight games in the Superdome, where it'll host Seattle on Sunday and Cincinnati the following week.
"It's a long season and there's a lot of season left," Allen said. "We are going to keep battling and we're going to keep fight fighting."
"The key is eliminating those things that keep you from winning and if you can identify that it's coming from a certain area, then I think there's some changes that may need to be made," Allen said. "We're going through that process. We're evaluating everything. We've got to perform better and we've got to coach better. ... We all have to take ownership."
I'll be watching for more on the QB situation (Winston did not practice Wednesday), Kamara, who was on the practice field Wednesday, and Thomas, who wasn't, in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as the week progresses. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As Associated Press sports writer Brett Martel notes, while Dalton demonstrated he could produce without the benefit of two top skill players in the lineup, recently reacquired running back Latavius Murray led the Saints on the ground with 57 yards on 11 carries -- an average of 5.2 yards per rush -- and scored a touchdown with a strong push through Vikings defenders.
"Latavius gave us a little bit of a spark," Allen said. "There was some things he did well in the game. So that was good to see."
Unfortunately for the Saints, Murray, who reverted to the practice squad upon the team's return from London, was signed by the Broncos, who lost starter Javonte Williams to a knee injury. ...
You can access complete stats for the Saints Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Jake Haener
RBs: Jamaal Williams, Kendre Miller, Alvin Kamara
WRs: Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed, A.T. Perry, Tre'Quan Smith
TEs: Juwan Johnson, Foster Moreau, Jimmy Graham, Taysom Hill
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Daniel Jones has an ankle sprain and showed some signs of improvement on Monday, head coach Brian Daboll said.
Whether he'll be able to play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in London remains in doubt.
"Daniel is feeling a little bit better today," Daboll said. "We'll just see how that goes."
Daboll would not answer a question about whether Jones has a high ankle sprain. He declined to provide more specifics.
According to ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan, the initial tests on Jones' injured ankle have been positive. There is no fracture. Jones was hurt when his left foot got caught underneath safety Jaquan Brisker on a sack in the third quarter of Sunday's 20-12 win over the Chicago Bears.
The Giants' starting quarterback left the game but went back in after backup Tyrod Taylor exited with a concussion. Jones admitted afterward that he was in pain and his ability to move was compromised.
Daboll said Monday that Taylor was in the concussion protocol and would also be monitored throughout the week.
Davis Webb would start Sunday against the Packers if Jones and Taylor are unable to play. Webb is currently on the practice squad.
"In terms of where we're at this point, I don't think we're at that point just yet to make a decision," Daboll said. "Let this thing play out."
Webb was the Giants' third-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He spent time with the New York Jets and was with Daboll in Buffalo before re-signing with the Giants this offseason.
Webb has never thrown a pass in an NFL game.
"I think you try to plan for every contingency plan that you may or may not have throughout the week. [Starting Webb] will certainly be one of them," Daboll said. "Again, I don't want to guess right now on Monday where all the other guys are going to be. Davis has been in our offense for quite some time. He knows the ins and outs of it, so if he has to play we'll do everything we can, and I know he will, to be ready to play."
The Giants worked out quarterbacks on Tuesday as another contingency. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that Jake Fromm was among those getting a look and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports AJ McCarron was also throwing his hat in the ring. Both players are familiar to Daboll from his time as Buffalo's offensive coordinator.
Whatever the case, they will need a backup for Webb if Jones and Taylor are unable to play. Daboll still was not certain whether they will add one to roster, but they hadn't done this as of Wednesday.
Taylor left Sunday's game after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit early in the fourth quarter as he scrambled for a first down. Daboll said the current climate after the handling of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's injury will not affect the team's treatment of Taylor.
"I think we take every injury serious here. We try to do everything we can do to put the player's best interest in mind. That is what we'll always do," Daboll said.
Taylor's injury forced running back Saquon Barkley to run a wildcat offense during the final seven-plus minutes with Jones on the field to relay the play calls from the coaches.
Jones' injured ankle could prove troubling in a different way. The Giants have leaned heavily on his running skills this season. Jones rushed for a pair of touchdowns before the injury on Sunday. He has 279 yards rushing on 45 carries already this year. His career high is 65 carries.
Jones has missed starts in each of his first three professional seasons. He missed a pair of starts his rookie season with a high ankle sprain.
"I'm just going to take it each day and see how [Jones] is," Daboll said. "If he can practice and go out there and perform the things we need him to do, great. If he needs a day, he needs a day. I think it's case by case with all those guys. He's obviously played a lot of football. I trust him and where he's at. I think we as coaches need to do a good job watching him, evaluating him. Getting all the information we need to get to make the best decision for him and the team as we can."
The positive for the Giants is Jones went through all of media viewing portion of Wednesday's practice. He did both individual stuff and team drills and according to those on hand for the session, he weas moving well. Taylor did not practice.
According to Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan, "The best guess is Jones plays. He will use his running skills on a limited basis while making more passes from the pocket. ..."
In addition, the team's receiving corps is battered with Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) sidelined the past two weeks and Sterling Shepard (knee) out for the season.
Kenny Golladay suffered an MCL sprain against the Bears and is not expected to make the trip to London, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.
The wideouts had three catches Sunday, one apiece by Darius Slayton, David Sills and Richie James. The Giants completed nine passes overall for 71 yards, their lowest yardage total since 2007 in a win over Miami in London.
Adding to the intrigue, James, who currently leads the Giants in receptions (15) and receiving yards (155), sat out Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury.
Fortunately the running game continues to work well.
The Giants rushed for 262 yards Sunday, averaging 6.0 yards. It was their best rushing performance since they had 308 yards against Carolina in December 2008. They had 44 rushing attempts, a number inflated because they ran the wildcat after Jones and Taylor were hurt.
Barkley ended the day with a career-high 31 carries for 146 yards and a good feeling about his cameo as the quarterback.
"When I saw Tyrod go down, I kind of realized I'm up next," Barkley said. "I'm the quarterback. First of all, you have to give credit to DJ coming back in the game. I can't curse, he's a tough you know what. Nothing but respect for him to go in and continue to fight through that for his team just shows you the type of person and type of player he is. I think I just tried my best to read it. It's really not that hard, I guess, but I think I made the right reads on them. But we were able to keep the ball moving, get down field, get some points and the defense did a great job for us."
The Giants will be hoping that Jones is well enough to play against the Packers in London this week, but the first four weeks have shown that the offensive focus should be on Barkley regardless of who is taking the snaps.
I will, of course, have more on the QB and WR situations via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
You can access complete stats for the Giants Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell
WRs: Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, Sterling Shepard, Wan'Dale Robinson
TEs: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini reported it, Zach Wilson's season debut included a historic touchdown catch, a two-quarter slump that nearly doomed the New York Jets and the biggest fourth-quarter comeback of his young career.
"That was an ugly win, but that was some of the most fun I've had playing football," Wilson said Sunday after a 24-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium.
"It was a wild game," Cimini wrote.
The Jets led by 10 points in the first quarter and trailed by 10 in the fourth, but Wilson rallied them with 81- and 65-yard touchdown drives on their final two possessions to pull out their second come-from-behind win on the road. Sunday's game was the first time since 1988 that the Jets led by 10 points, trailed by 10 and won the game, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
Wilson returned to the huddle after a preseason knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 16. With only three days of full practice, he was predictably rusty (18-for-36, 252 yards, two interceptions), but he made several clutch throws in the fourth quarter.
Wilson was nearly flawless in the fourth, completing 10 of 12 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown -- a 5-yard slant to wide receiver Corey Davis with 7:31 remaining.
"The young man doesn't flinch," head coach Robert Saleh said.
Wilson, drafted second overall in 2021, demonstrated toughness and resilience in the final minutes. He completed his last seven passes, including 5-for-5 for 57 yards on the final drive. The Jets took over on Michael Carter II's interception with 3:34 to play and marched to Breece Hall's 2-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds left.
Wilson said he didn't think about his surgically repaired knee during the game. He was under heavy duress by a makeshift line. He was sacked only once, but he was hit six times and pressured 14 times, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
"I thought this was probably the most comfortable I've ever felt from a pregame standpoint coming into a game," said Wilson, who went 3-10 as a starter during a difficult rookie year.
Wilson proved he could catch a pass.
In the second quarter, he scored on the Jets' version of the "Philly Special," a razzle-dazzle play in which he handed it to wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who pitched it to receiver Braxton Berrios, who threw a 2-yard pass to a wide open Wilson.
He became the first quarterback in Jets history to score a touchdown reception and the first to catch a pass since Geno Smith in 2013. Wilson celebrated with a "Griddy" dance in the end zone.
"Pretty cool," he said of his touchdown, joking, "I've got the best hands on the team."
The Jets seemed in control with a 10-0 lead, but Wilson threw two interceptions (one off the hands of tight end Tyler Conklin) as the Jets squandered opportunities to put the game away. Wilsons said "there was frustration, but it was the right frustration." The defense made four interceptions, including two by safety Lamarcus Joyner, to keep the Jets in the game. That gave Wilson two big possessions at the end.
"He never shut down. He never turns it off. You can tell he just believes in himself. He might not have played a perfect game, but it was his first game back and everything," Hall said of Wilson.
Wilson, showing no ill effects from his knee surgery, escaped a handful of sacks with his mobility. He said he was "in a good spot" with his knee, crediting the training staff for getting him ready. He was on the run because his offensive line suffered another key injury, as rookie right tackle Max Mitchell (knee) was carted off in the second quarter -- the fourth Jets tackle to get injured since training camp.
The day began with a surprise move, right guard Alijah Vera-Tucker starting at left tackle. By halftime, only two of the five Week 1 starters were in their original positions -- center Connor McGovern and left guard Laken Tomlinson. Led by Wilson, the Jets (2-2) overcame plenty of adversity.
"I thought he played a good game for his first game back," Saleh said.
It should be noted that Saleh told reporters before Wednesday's practice that Wilson would be a limited participant in the day’s session.
Saleh indicated Wilson’s ankle was the reason why he would not be a full participant before adding that Wilson would be “fine” for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant. ...
For what it's worth. ... Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said last week the Jets' offense would be "a hair different" with Wilson back at quarterback.
As Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. pointed out, "it turned out it was a whole head of hair different -- and because of Wilson's athleticism."
Conklin also said Wilson was "slippery" while routinely getting out of trouble and avoiding pressure in the pocket.
And now, at 2-2, the Jets are at least .500 through four games for the first time since 2017. They opened that season at 3-2, and they'll be trying to match that next week at home against the AFC East-rival Miami Dolphins. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Hall rushed 17 times for 66 yards and the above-mentioned touchdown while catching two of six targets for 12 yards against the Steelers.
As CBSSports.com notes, Hall was far more effective on the ground than Michael Carter, who mustered just 15 rushing yards on nine attempts.
The rookie scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute from two yards out. Hall was originally ruled short, but replays confirmed that he extended the ball across the plane of the goal line for his first career rushing touchdown.
The Jets will continue to feed both running backs, but Hall's starting to separate himself as the team's top option on the ground heading into Week 5.
Against the Steelers, Brees got 66 percent of the snaps, 65 percent of the rushing attempts, 47 percent of the two minute offense snaps, 71 percent of the long-down distance snaps, 100 percent of the short yardage snaps, 100 percent of the snaps in inside the five-yard line and 100 percent of the snaps inside the 10-yard line. 10
As FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland put it: "Hall's utilization is in RB1 territory. ..."
Worth noting. ... Saleh said Hall was dealing with "nicks and bruises" when the team began preparations for this week's game on Wednesday; I'll be watching for more on that and will have more if needed via Late-Breaking Update. ...
Also per McFarland, Garrett Wilson surpassed Davis in route participation (86 percent) for the first time in this one. The rookie also led the team with a 22 percent target share.
In addition, 71 percent of Wilson's targets were catchable.
And finally. ... C.J. Uzomah. The tight end, who signed a three-year, $24 million deal in the offseason, has been an afterthought in the passing game. He has just one 5-yard catch in three games this season. Uzomah played just 31 of 70 offensive snaps Sunday, with Conklin (57 snaps) getting the bulk of the work at tight end.
You can access complete stats for the Jets Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Zach Wilson, Aaron Rodgers
RBs: Dalvin Cook, Breece Hall, Michael Carter, Israel Abanikanda
WRs: Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb, Jason Brownlee, Xavier Gipson, Charles Irvin
TEs: Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Jeremy Ruckert, Kenny Yeboah
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
"Miles Sanders is our No. 1 back! There is no question about it!" head coach Nick Sirianni said.
As ESPN.com's Tim McManus reminded readers, the inside joke goes back to training camp, when Sanders worked one day with the second-team unit, sparking some speculation about how tight his grip was on the starting job. Sanders had already deemed this season to be "a little personal" and made it known after the hub-bub over practice reps that he was out for respect.
Some of his long runs during training camp would finish with Sanders shouting in the direction of the gathered media.
That edge has not dissipated through four regular-season games.
As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston advised his readers, take a look at all the players getting credit this season for the Philadelphia Eagles' undefeated start -- from offensive standouts Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown to defensive stalwarts Darius Slay and Brandon Graham -- and it's easy to see why running back Sanders was overlooked.
Sanders hadn't rushed for more than 96 yards in a game and scored only one touchdown over three games. It's not that he couldn't do more, it's that Sanders wasn't necessarily needed to do as much with Hurts throwing the ball at an MVP-level rate.
In the rain Sunday against Jacksonville, the Eagles needed Sanders.
And the back delivered. Sanders had 27 carries and rushed for 134 yards, both career highs, and scored two touchdowns in Philadelphia's 29-21 victory over Jacksonville.
"He played angry, in my opinion," Hurts said. "He played with a purpose."
His purpose moved the Eagles to 4-0 this season, the only undefeated team in the NFL.
Sanders became the first Eagle with at least 25 carries, 125 yards and two touchdowns since LeSean McCoy ran for 217 yards on 29 attempts and two TDs on Dec. 8, 2013, against Detroit. McCoy's game was famous in franchise history for being played in a blizzard. Sanders powered his way to a career-best outing in driving rain.
Sanders' big day moved him to third in the NFL in yards rushing (356) behind only New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (463) and Cleveland's Nick Chubb (459).
"With the weather being the way it is, we still passed the ball effectively," Sanders said. "And the offensive line, we had over 200 yards rushing. So all over, if the team keeps doing that, we're going to win a lot of games."
Sanders' big game is good because, while Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott and Trey Sermon are all positive contributors, having a true lead back adds to the variety of ways in which the Eagles can win games.
We've seen them lean on the play of Hurts, who ranks fifth in passing yards (1,120), first in yards per pass (9.1) and third in rushing touchdowns (4). We've seen them rely on their defense, which is first in sacks (16) and tied for first in takeaways (10).
And now we've seen them supported by Sanders and the ground game, which ripped off 210 yards against a Jacksonville team that led the league in rush defense coming in (55 yards per game).
"There were a lot of ugly runs in there that [Sanders] made positive yards out of," said center Jason Kelce. "That's what you want out of a running back. When we block it up well, you're going to get good yards. But the running backs that can make something when there ain't much there, that's when you know you've got a good one, and Miles was doing a lot of that [Sunday]."
Sanders, meanwhile, gave most of the credit to an offensive line that continued to dominate even when tackle Jordan Mailata and guard Isaac Seumalo exited with injuries.
The Eagles now know they can win shootouts and slop-fests alike. And although injuries have factored into Sanders' career, they now have evidence that he can handle a heavy workload (he hadn't carried it that many times since a game against Rutgers in 2018, when he was playing for Penn State) and thrive in the assignment, all while protecting the football in "train wreck" like elements, as Kelce described them. That bodes well for an Eagles team that could very well be playing meaningful games in January.
"Definitely getting in the groove," Sanders said of the increased carries. "Whenever they call my number, I'm going to be ready, regardless."
The Eagles went 2-0 on their back-to-back reunion tour with wins over former QB Carson Wentz in Washington and then former coach Doug Pederson and the Jaguars. Next up, it's off to Arizona, where the Eagles are already 5 1/2-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook and they'll visit with former tight end Zach Ertz. ...
On the injury front. ... Kicker Jake Elliott injured his leg during Sunday's victory over Jacksonville. He gutted it out to the finish, and special teams coordinator Michael Clay said Tuesday that Elliott has a chance to play this week.
But Elliott could miss some practice time if not Sunday's game against the Cardinals. He was not on the field Wednesday.
Thus, the Eagles are signing free agent kicker Cameron Dicker to their practice squad, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.
The team cut tight end Dalton Keene from the practice squad earlier in the day to make room.
Dicker signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent this spring and finished camp with the Ravens.
He went 13-of-15 on field goals and 49-of-50 on extra points for the University of Texas last season. Dicker also averaged 46.8 yards per punt in 2021 with the Longhorns.
Dicker has never kicked in a regular-season game.
In addition, cornerback Darius Slay (forearm), Mailata (shoulder), Seumalo (ankle) and linebackers Patrick Johnson (head injury) and Kyron Johnson (head) all left the game for the Eagles, who were already without corner Avonte Maddox (ankle) and Scott (rib).
Scott was able to work on a limited basis Wednesday.
Philadelphia has largely enjoyed good health to this point, but there are multiple injuries to monitor heading into next week's game at the Cardinals; I'll follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Eagles Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee
RBs: D'Andre Swift, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny
WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Olamide Zaccheaus, Quez Watkins
TEs: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Albert Okwuegbunam
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As NFL.com's Michael Baca reported it, "After catching a glimpse of its future at quarterback last Sunday, Pittsburgh will begin the Kenny Pickett era in Week 5. ..."
The Steelers will move forward with Pickett as their starting QB, replacing veteran Mitchell Trubisky.
Mike Tomlin tried to keep the moment at bay as long as he could.
Trubisky did too while gamely -- if futilely -- enduring what quickly became a weekly referendum on his ability to hang onto the starting quarterback job in Pittsburgh during a slow start.
It didn't matter.
Pickett's ascension was always going to be inevitable after the team selected him with the No. 20 overall pick in April.
Trubisky won a three-man QB competition against Pickett and Mason Rudolph during training camp, but loses his job after four games.
Pickett's first official start is no dandy, as the Steelers go on the road to face the Buffalo Bills (3-1) this Sunday.
All that said, as Associated Press sports writer Will Graves stressed, their issues extend far beyond quarterback play. The defense has yielded late in all four games, the latest pratfall coming while letting Zach Wilson rally the Jets from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in a city in which New York had won just once in franchise history before Sunday.
"Good, bad or indifferent, there's always going to be a spotlight on the quarterback position," defensive tackle Cam Heyward said, later adding, "(but) I think everybody can look at it and say '1-53, we all have to be better.'"
Pickett's promotion comes after being thrust into the lineup for Trubisky midway through the Steelers' Week 4 loss to the New York Jets.
"I thought we needed a spark, man," Tomlin said of Pickett's relief appearance. "We didn't do much in the first half, not enough offensively, and I thought he could provide a spark for us."
The rookie QB did provide that spark in the early going of the second half. Pickett's number was quickly called on his very first drive, diving forward on a QB sneak on a crucial fourth-and-1 pitted on his own 31-yeard line. That drive ended with Pickett throwing his first interception, but he would soon get the Steelers their first lead of the game after another QB sneak into the end zone.
Pickett then orchestrated a 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended with his second rushing TD on the day to boost the Steelers' lead. The former Pitt star QB was fearless in and out of the pocket, and showed a good rapport with rookie wideout George Pickens with a couple of nice back-shoulder throws.
The Steelers moved the ball well with Pickett at the helm, but rookie mistakes would soon rear its ugly head. Pickett's second INT was a bad throw that aided a Jets fourth-quarter comeback with 3:42 left to play in the game. His third pick came on a desperate Hail Mary into the end zone down four points from the Jets' 48-yard line.
At the end of the day, none of Pickett's 13 pass attempts hit the turf. The 24-year-old completed 10 of those passes for 120 yards and the other three were caught by Jets defenders. Pickett added 15 yards rushing on six attempts with those two scores.
Trubisky was 7 of 13 for 84 yards and an interception in the first half Sunday. In three-plus games as the Steelers' QB1, Trubisky had just two touchdown passes.
A 2017 first-round pick of the Chicago Bears, Trubisky was the team's starter for the majority of four seasons there, the last two marked by the same rumblings of being replaced that he faced with the Steelers. After a 2021 season spent with the Bills as Josh Allen's understudy, Trubisky signed a two-year pact with Pittsburgh. After the Steelers took Pittsburgh's Pickett in the first round, it seemed inevitable that the homegrown product would take over as the franchise QB eventually.
Now it's happened after four games and three straight losses. The Pickett era in Pittsburgh is underway. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Working in Pickett's favor, the Steelers have steadily increased their rushing total through the first four games, from 75 to 91 to 104 to 119 against the Jets. Undrafted rookie free agent Jaylen Warren is averaging a solid 5.0 yards per carry while spelling Najee Harris, but he needs to learn to hold onto the ball.
Another player to watch: The Pickens of training camp has returned.
The rookie wide receiver caught six passes for 102 yards on Sunday, looking every bit the big-play threat the Steelers envisioned when they selected him in the second round.
The next challenge? Getting him in the end zone. Pickens has yet to score a touchdown a month into his pro career.
While Pickens is surging, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool appear to be receding.
Claypool was held without a catch for just the second time in his three-year career and failed to break up a heave on a 50/50 ball from Pickett that turned into an interception. Johnson let a Trubisky pass smack off his hands for a pick in the first half that set up a Jets field goal a week after a couple of drops down the stretch in Cleveland proved costly.
As for the target shares with Pickett under center?
According to 4for4.com's John Daigle, Pickens drew 30.7 percent of the looks; Pat Freiermuth 30.7 percent; Johnson 15.3 percent; Claypool 7.6 percent; and Zach Gentry 7.6 percent.
Those numbers will be worth tracking in coming weeks -- and we will. ...
According to Graves, for a team built to win with little margin for error, the special teams have failed to be a difference-maker outside of kicker Chris Boswell, who tied a career-high with a 59-yard field goal on Sunday. Gunner Olszewski doesn't have a kick return of any variety longer than 20 yards and has already fumbled twice.
On the injury front. ... Heyward was checked for both ankle and elbow injuries but remained in the game, though he was slowed at times. ... S Minkah Fitzpatrick tweaked his knee but stayed on the field. ... S Terrell Edmunds entered the concussion protocol when he was shaken up trying to break up a pass late in the first half and did not return. ... CB Cam Sutton is dealing with a hamstring issue.
You can access complete stats for the Steelers Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kenny Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph
RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.
WRs: George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski, Calvin Austin III, Diontae Johnson
TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
As NFL.com's Grant Gordon recounted it, "As a Jimmy Garoppolo pass went high into the Bay Area evening, it seemed destined for a Derion Kendrick interception.
"Instead, it was the preamble to 57 yards of Deebo Samuel brilliance. ..."
The star wideout leapt up for Garoppolo's throw before weaving and rumbling through would-be Rams tacklers on his way to a second-quarter touchdown that set the tone for a 24-9 San Francisco win over rival Los Angeles on Monday night.
"It was impressive," head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "At first it looked like a pick. It was close, that corner was teeing off on it. We had to wait a little bit cause the guy inside, they ran into each other. We had to hesitate just a hair and Deebo to come down with that throw, then he did the rest. When you get the ball in his hands, I think he's shown he does some pretty cool things."
Grant went on to suggest, "Samuel, who finished the night with six catches for 115 yards and the TD, has become a highlight waiting to happen."
Samuel expects to make big plays.
"Every time I get a chance to get the ball in my hands," Samuel said, "that's just my mentality of trying to make it a big play, but it's just second nature to me right now."
His quarterback expects him to make them.
"You almost know Deebo's gonna have one or two of those in a game," Garoppolo said.
And by this point, the Rams likely expect him to make them, as well.
"Every time he touches the ball, I feel like all of us on the sideline, we're just kind of holding our breath, we're waiting for him to bust one open and score one," San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said. "There's something about Deebo against those Rams. Just a heckuva player and in big-time games he always comes to play."
This was Samuel's biggest game of the season so far and came at a much-needed time as the Niners were coming off a sleep-inducing 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. Though most teams likely wouldn't be poised to return to form against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the 49ers' success -- and Samuel's along with it -- against the Rams has almost become clockwork in the regular season.
San Francisco won its seventh regular-season game in a row against Los Angeles, and Samuel has been part of each of those, having never tasted defeat to the Rams in the regular season. He's scored six TDs in those seven games. The one glaring exception of course is last season's NFC Championship Game win by the Rams against the Niners, though Samuel was still a factor with 98 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
For the most part, though, Samuel has been phenomenal at the Rams' expense.
Clinging to a 7-6 lead, the Niners were facing third-and-3 on their 43-yard line when Garoppolo targeted Samuel.
Samuel's catch was spectacular enough as he went airborne to the left side of the hash and brought down the high throw.
"The dude just missed the ball and my mentality is it's just me and the ball out there," Samuel said. "Whatever happened after that is just something that I work on all the time and I just got in the box."
Then came the yards after the catch that have set Samuel apart as a dynamic presence in the league.
He immediately juked through an arm tackle from one Rams defender to the left before juking another out of his cleats back inside to the right 10 yards later.
"Just going out there and breaking tackles is something I do all the time," Samuel said.
Turning on the afterburners, Samuel hit full speed up the middle of the field before setting his sights on All-Pro Jalen Ramsey. One on one with Samuel, Ramsey was barely a speed bump for the 49ers' whirling dervish. As Ramsey went low and locked on to Samuel's left tree trunk of a leg, the Niners all-star broke free to the outside, gliding into the end zone as teammate Brandon Aiyuk put one last Rams defender on the ground with a block at the goal line.
"Yeah, I don't know what he was doing out there," Samuel said of Ramsey. "I just went right by him. He was just back-pedaling, I was like, 'What's going on?'"
After tossing the touchdown ball into the crowd, Samuel was congratulated by teammates and appropriately flexed his right arm.
It was a 57-yard flex of horsepower, a perfect example of speed and strength that has made the wideback so special.
There was a reason Shanahan didn't want to entertain trading away his All-Pro talent during a contentious offseason. Those reasons were loud and clear on Monday night.
"It's just the vision," Samuel told NFL Network's Taylor Bisciotti after the game. "I think I see the field pretty well and just go out there and break tackles and just do what I do."
For what it's worth. ... Samuel topped the 100 mark in yards after catch in a game for the fourth time in his career. Since Samuel entered the NFL in 2019, no other wide receiver has more than two games with at least 100 yards after the catch.
Of some concern. ... According to Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow noted, Garoppolo didn't push the ball downfield at all, missing on both deep shots he tried and completing only 2 of 6 passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield.
Next up, the 49ers begin a two-week road trip on Sunday at Carolina. They will head to West Virginia for the week following that game and finish the trip at Atlanta on Oct. 16. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Garoppolo wasn't quite in top form Monday night, but his performance was better than his erratic showing in the loss in Denver. Garoppolo finished 16-of-27 for 237 yards and a touchdown and did a better job on third downs, helping the 49ers to convert 5-of-12 after going just 1-of-10 against the Broncos.
Garoppolo is still working to get to a place he wants to be in physically and mentally after missing the offseason due to shoulder surgery but took a step forward over the past week.
"I think every week I'll keep feeling better and better," Garoppolo said. "The shoulder, it's tough during the season to get it right, but we've got a long season ahead of us. Hopefully every week it'll get better and better."
Samuel said he felt Garoppolo was closer to top form on Monday night even though the offense isn't quite where it needs to be.
"With him having two weeks under his belt, I knew Jimmy would come out there and be the Jimmy that we know, even though he missed a few," Samuel said. "We still got work to do and he did a good job today on third downs as well. ..."
This just in: Jeff Wilson Jr. is fast.
With under three minutes to go in the first quarter, Garoppolo handed off to Wilson who then sped through the Rams' defense unscathed for a 32-yard touchdown.
In his touchdown run, the 26-year-old hit a top speed of 20.82 MPH, the fastest by a 49er in the 2022 NFL season.
Of note, the fastest recorded speed so far this season was Devin Duvernay of the Baltimore Ravens. He hit 21.6 MPH in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins on a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, per NFL Next Gen Stats. ...
Robbie Gould missed a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter with the Niners looking to make it a two-score game. Gould has missed two FGs so far this season, with one getting blocked in Week 2 to set up a touchdown for Seattle.
On the injury front. ... Colton McKivitz, filling in for injured All-Pro LT Trent Williams, left the game with a sprained MCL and is expected to miss about two months. ... DT Arik Armstead, who missed last week's game with a foot injury, left this game with the same injury and was undergoing tests Tuesday. ... WR Jauan Jennings (ankle) is day to day. ... S Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and CB Jason Verrett (knee) are expected back at practice Wednesday.
And finally. ... The 49ers have released receiver Willie Snead, the team announced on Tuesday.
San Francisco had just signed Snead from its practice squad to the 53-man roster on Monday, in advance of the team's eventual victory over the Rams.
Snead was active, but did not play a snap in the contest.
Last year, Snead appeared in nine games between the Panthers and Raiders. He caught four passes for 38 yards, also playing some special teams for the Raiders.
Snead joined the 49ers during training camp in early August. He has been on and off the practice squad since roster cuts at the end of the preseason.
The 49ers do have an opening on their practice squad, so Snead could rejoin that unit.
You can access complete stats for the 49ers Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price, Kyle Juszczyk
WRs: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell, Danny Gray
TEs: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis, Ross Dwelley, Cameron Latu
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
According to NFL.com's Kevin Patra, "It's time to start putting some respect on Geno Smith's game. ..."
The veteran quarterback played on fire in Sunday's 48-45 win over the Detroit Lions. Smith led a Seahawks offense that didn't punt on nine possessions while gobbling up 555 yards and 27 first downs. Seattle averaged 8.8 yards per play Sunday.
"Geno played some spectacular football," head coach Pete Carroll said, via the team's official website. "Spectacular football. Not just the throwing and the catching, but the command of the game and running the whole show. He did an incredible job, and he ran the ball, too, for 50 yards or something. Fantastic day, I don't know how you could do a whole lot more, play a whole lot better than that."
Smith played near flawless football, completing 23 of 30 passes (76.7 percent) for 320 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers for a 132.6 passer rating while averaging 10.7 yards per attempt. Smith also kicked in seven rushes for 49 yards and a score.
On Wednesday, Smith was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
"(Shoot), he's been on fire all year," said receiver DK Metcalf, who had 149 yards on seven catches. "He keeps building, keeps getting better week by week, and our chemistry keeps growing, and we're finally building an identity for ourselves."
Through four games, Smith leads the NFL with a 77.3 completion percentage, while throwing for 1,037 yards (10th-most entering Monday night) with six TDs and two interceptions. His 108.0 passer rating sits third in the NFL, and his QBR (72.2) is sixth. Smith is the only QB with a 70-plus completion percentage and more than 1,000 yards passing through four weeks (before MNF).
Those stats not enough to believe Geno has been cooking? How about some Next Gen Stats?
Smith's 10.0 completion percentage over expected is the highest among all QBs who've made at least two starts. And his 0.16 EPA per drop back ranks fourth among starting QBs, behind only Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
Yes, Sunday, he picked apart a woeful Lions defense that is on a historically bad pace. But beyond just finding open receivers, Smith is getting the Seahawks into the right plays and making key conversions on third downs to move the chains (Seattle went 9-of-12 on third downs Sunday).
Smith earned 300-plus yards passing in back-to-back weeks for the first time in his career. But he isn't buying that he's hit any sort of ceiling yet.
"I can play better," he said. "I have not exceeded my expectations. I can play a lot better."
Now, if only the Seahawks' defense could also improve.
While Smith led the offense to the third most in franchise history, Seattle's defense allowed 520 yards to a Detroit offense that was missing two of its best skill position players.
All four opponents have rushed for more than 100 yards, and the Lions had seven plays of 20 yards or more, something that does not sit well with Carroll and the expectations he has for Seattle's defense.
"The explosive plays are giving them all kinds of opportunities that we can't give up," Carroll said. "And those are one thing or another. It's not any one thing. It's not the coverage that we're playing or it's not the style of stuff or any of that. We just have to execute better and not give up the yardage we're giving up."
According to Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth, part of Smith's success over the past two weeks is simply Seattle running more offensive plays and being excellent on third downs.
Seattle ran 69 plays in Week 3 against Atlanta and 63 plays on Sunday against Detroit. In those two games, the Seahawks are 18 of 29 on third downs, including 9 of 12 against Detroit. Seattle didn't punt in a game for the first time in franchise history against the Lions.
Next up, Seattle finishes its two-game road trip on Sunday at New Orleans. It's another early kickoff and Seattle will be trying to win in New Orleans for the first time since 2004. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Also according to Booth, the Rashaad Penny that dominated at the end of last season finally showed up.
Penny carried 17 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns, after rushing for 141 yards total through the first three games combined. Penny averaged a whopping 8.9 yards per carry against the Lions, the third-best average of his career in a game where he had at least 10 carries. Penny averaged 9.2 yards per carry in 2019 against Philadelphia and 9.0 against the Rams in 2018.
Penny now has five rushing touchdowns of 30 or more yards dating back to last season. No other NFL player has more than two dating back to the start of last season. To illustrate how rare Penny's big-play ability is, if you take it back to 2019, capturing two more long TD runs, Penny has seven touchdowns of 30 plus yards, trailing only Derrick Henry, who has eight TDs of 30 or more yards over that span.
One big difference though? Henry has 976 carries since 2019, while Penny has just 244. ...
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, Metcalf's dominating man-heavy teams (regardless of help coverage) continued today against Detroit -- the heaviest man-coverage team in the NFL.
Metcalf's 149 receiving yards were the highest yardage total since he had 177 yards in a Week 12 win at Philadelphia in 2020.
McFarland added: "Man-zone splits can be tricky, but some extremes provide edges. Metcalf is one of them. ..."
You can access complete stats for the Seahawks Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Geno Smith, Drew Lock
RBs: Kenneth Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, DeeJay Dallas, Kenny McIntosh
WRs: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Cody Thompson, Dareke Young, Jake Bobo
TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall, there was nothing wrong with Tampa Bay's passing attack that the return of some of Tom Brady's top playmakers didn't fix.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in Sunday night's 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. However, that doesn't mean the Buccaneers' offense is running smoothly.
Against the Chiefs, in fact, the Bucs barely ran. Didn't even try much after fumbling the opening kickoff and falling behind 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
Patrick Mahomes completed 23 of 37 passes for 249 yards and three TDs, but Kansas City also made things easier for him by rushing for 189 yards on 37 attempts.
Brady, on the other hand, attempted a season-high 52 passes, but got virtually no help from a ground game that produced just 3 yards on six carries.
The 45-year-old quarterback was at a loss to explain what became of the rushing attack the past two weeks in back-to-back losses to Green Bay and Kansas City.
"You know, we've got to take a look. I'm sure it's not just one thing. I'm sure it's probably several things. ... We've just got to take the time to evaluate it and see if we can do a better job," Brady said.
"Obviously, we're not going to throw it all the time. I mean, we have plenty of good, capable runners and a line that does a great job in the run game," Brady added. "We just haven't kind of found our rhythm there yet."
The Bucs (2-2) opened the season with wins at Dallas and New Orleans, primarily because of a stingy defense that was allowing a league-low nine points per game before Sunday night and a productive running attack that eased some of the burden on Brady to carry the offense.
With wide receiver Mike Evans serving a one-game suspension and two other primary playmakers -- Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) -- sidelined by injuries, Tampa Bay sputtered offensively the previous week in a 14-12 loss to Green Bay.
The Bucs had 34 yards rushing on 14 attempts against the Packers, leading coach Todd Bowles to declare afterward that the team had to do a better job of spreading carries among Leonard Fournette and seldom-used backups Rachaad White and Ke'Shawn Vaughn.
Fournette (three attempts, minus-3 yards) and White (three attempts, 6 yards) were the only players with carries against the Chiefs.
Evans (eight receptions, 103 yards, two TDs), Godwin (seven catches, 59 yards) and Jones (one reception, 7 yards) all returned Sunday night, although the Bucs did not plan to throw the ball anywhere near as much as they did.
"The last two weeks I know we didn't run it well, but we had every intention to (Sunday night). We got behind early and it didn't happen," Bowles said.
"The encouragement is that it's one loss, and we're 2-2," Bowles added, "and we get to play again next week."
So is a 2-2 start a bad omen for the Bucs?
According to ESPN.com's Jenna Laine, it's not.
"Let's put things into perspective," Laine wrote. "The Bucs are 2-2 through the first four games of the regular season against teams that finished a combined 46-22 last year. This is the seventh time that Brady is 2-2 (2003, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018) with four of those seasons (2003, 2014, 2017, 2018) culminating in a trip to the Super Bowl.
"This was supposed to be the hardest part of the Bucs' schedule, though. Their remaining opponents are a combined 18-24 -- and they play division rivals Carolina (1-3) and Atlanta (2-2) twice."
Other notes of interest. ... This year, Brady's podcast has become a far more reliable and comprehensive source of information regarding his health than anything generated by the Buccaneers.
On the latest episode of Let's Go! from SiriusXM, Brady said a lot more about his latest injury than he did after Sunday night's loss.
"My shoulder's doing OK," Brady told Jim Gray. "You know, just some bumps and bruises, and I kind of took a hit there on it. Got some treatment today. Got a little bit last night. So I'm sure I'll be fine in the end. Thank God for Alex [Guerrero], who's always taking good care of me and he's put together and helped me through a lot of bumps and bruises over the years. So this week will be very similar to a lot of the other ones, just getting on the mend, getting back to practice and trying to improve and be ready to go for next week."
The injury, which happened on a sack that resulted in a fumble, affected Brady's right (throwing) shoulder. Brady undoubtedly will play against the Falcons on Sunday.
Since joining the Buccaneers in 2020, Brady has never missed a game, having started 37 in a row. He hasn't missed a regular-season start since 2016 with the New England Patriots and has made 97 consecutive starts.
Brady was on the team injury report each day leading up to Sunday with a bum right finger, but was a full participant throughout.
This week, however, Brady started the week as a nonparticipant due to the shoulder and the finger issues. In addition, Godwin, Jones and Russell Gage (hamstring) were all limited. I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update as needed. ...
Meanwhile, Bowles said tight end Cameron Brate experienced delayed symptoms of a concussion after initially complaining about shoulder discomfort following a collision with a teammate during the first half Sunday night.
Bowles said Monday that Brate was checked out three times before being allowed to re-enter Sunday night's game with the Bucs driving for a touchdown that trimmed an 18-point deficit to 28-17 just before halftime.
"He went on the sideline. He complained of shoulder discomfort, nothing about his head. He was checked out three times," Bowles said.
"He said give him a minute. Nothing came up. He went back in until the end of the half," the coach added. "At halftime, he started having symptoms. Obviously, they were delayed. He started complaining about that. They tested him, and he's in the (concussion) protocol. We kept him out the rest of the game."
Bowles said an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant did not ask the Bucs to test Brate for a concussion.
"Nobody called down. He was checked out three times. He went back in until the end of the half. The concussion thing didn't come up until halftime. He had delayed symptoms," Bowles repeated.
"It was noticeable hit, but again it was on the shoulder," the coach added. "Nobody said anything about the head."
Bowles was asked if he was comfortable with the way Brate's situation was handled on Sunday night.
"Player safety is important for us in this league," Bowles said. "We're not trying to play anyone who's hurt. ..."
While he lost fumble on a kickoff return and averaged 2 yards per carry on his three rushing attempts, White displayed some of his potential value to the passing game with five receptions for 50 yards. ...
Cole Beasley has decided to retire effective immediately, his agents Joel and Justin Turner told NFL Network.
“He is ready to be with his family after playing in 11 seasons and it’s time to be a full time dad and husband,” the Turners said. ...
A few final items. ... Last week, Brady said that the disruption caused by Hurricane Ian shouldn't be an excuse for poor performance against the Chiefs on Sunday night.
Tuesday night, Bowles kind of made the hurricane an excuse for the team's poor performance against the Chiefs on Sunday night.
Via JoeBucsFan.com, Bowles addressed the impact of the storm in his weekly appearance on the Buccaneers Radio Network.
"Preparation, you know, the biggest thing is preparation and practice," Bowles said. "You'll play how you practice. With all the movement last week, I don't think we prepped as well as we should have or as well as some people could have. But preparation will be the key this week."
Bowles's comments echo things said by multiple players before the game, with the Noah's Ark gathering of family and pets in Miami creating anything but normal circumstances for the team.
And last. ... If you're looking for possible distractions this week, the New York Post reports that Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, have hired divorce lawyers.
The Post previously reported that marital discord caused Brady's 11-day training-camp hiatus. CNN reported last month that Brady and Bundchen are "living separately."
There will likely be questions about this for Brady and further discussion in the media.
You can access complete stats for the Buccaneer Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask
RBs: Rachaad White, Sean Tucker, Chase Edmonds, Ke'Shawn Vaughn
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, Kaylon Geiger, Deven Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett, Russell Gage
TEs: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
The Tennessee Titans have clawed their way back to .500 after an 0-2 start.
Thanks to playing in the AFC South, the two-time division champs no longer are sitting on the bottom looking up.
All they have to do now is find a way to win another road game and get to their bye without losing any more players to injuries.
"Well, this will be a huge week for us," head coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. "I mean, we can't look ahead. We have to focus on going into Washington and preparing this week and finding out who's available."
The Titans (2-2) held off the Indianapolis Colts 24-17 for their fourth straight win in this division rivalry and fifth in the past six. Derrick Henry ran for 114 yards for his first 100-yard rushing game this season and finished with a combined 147 yards.
"There's plenty of things that we need to fix, and we will," Vrabel said.
The Titans have started each game by driving for a touchdown. Against the Colts, they topped themselves by scoring on each of their first four possessions. Veteran wide receiver Robert Woods, their offseason trade acquisition from the Super Bowl champion Rams, got his first TD catch this season.
Henry, the two-time NFL rushing champ, had his best game yet this season by halftime.
According to ESPN.com's Turron Davenport, the Titans felt Henry was close to getting on track entering Week 4 against the Colts, and it turned out they were right. Henry gained 99 yards in the first half and scored his longest touchdown of the season in the first quarter when he scooted 19 yards on the second drive of the game. It was the fifth time in the last seven games that Henry rushed for 100 or more yards against the Colts.
The Colts had allowed a league-best 2.6 yards per carry before Henry gashed them for 114 yards on 22 carries (5.2 average).
He should have had a second rushing TD that was wiped out by a holding penalty on rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks, who was subsequently forced out of the game with an injury.
Burks caught a pass and tried to fight for extra yards as a Colts defender fell on his left ankle.
The Titans tried to run Cody Hollister out to replace Burks on the next play, but he was forced out of the huddle. Burks hobbled off the line of scrimmage on the next play and then went down. The Titans' training staff helped him off the field and straight to the bench before a cart came and took him to the locker room.
Burks was on crutches and his left foot was in a walking boot when he left the locker room.
Vrabel said Monday that they still were evaluating the 18th pick overall and he didn't know how long the rookie will be out. NFL.com reported Burks has turf toe, but wouldn't need surgery.
Vrabel said he didn't expect either WR Racey McMath nor CB Elijah Molden to start practicing this week. Both have spent the minimum of four games on injured reserve, allowing the Titans to have them to start practicing if either are among the eight players allowed to be brought back this season.
Given all this, it's safe to say the goal for the Titans is to survive their next road trip to Washington, climb above .500 and use the bye to rest and heal up.
As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker acknowledged, it's not great that the break comes five games into the season, but the banged-up Titans need to catch their breath before hosting Indianapolis on Oct. 23 followed by another pair of road games at Houston and at Kansas City. ...
Of course, they'll need to fix their second-half issues.
The Titans now have been outscored 64-7 after halftime and haven't scored a single point since the third quarter of their season opener. Their scoreless stretch has reached seven straight quarters in the second half of games.
The Titans' offensive struggles reached a new level against the Colts as they were outgained 199-28 in the second half. They opened the second half with three straight three-and-outs.
On a more positive note, the Titans climbed back to even in turnover margin after not turning the ball over in Indianapolis. The defense came up with an interception and recovered two fumbles.
Also worth noting. ... Henry was again involved in the passing game in Week 4 with a 25 percent target share, which was a team high in this one.
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, Henry also picked up 44 percent of the two-minute offense -- definitely a new development, per Pro Football Focus.
McFarland added: "The Titans might be serious about getting the Big Dog more targets. ..."
The Titans had several players on offense make plays when they got rolling early, as Henry rolled, Ryan Tannehill was sharp, and Woods caught the aforementioned touchdown.
But it was a breakout game of sorts for rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, who also caught his first career touchdown in the first half before making a big play late.
Remember, it was Okonkwo who caught the seven-yard pass from Tannehill when the Titans faced a third-and-four on their final possession. The first down allowed the Titans to keep the ball, and they ran out the clock.
"As you know, winning is our main goal -- that's the No.1 thing," said Okonkwo, who caught three passes for 33 yards and the score. "It feels great to win, and obviously it feels great to make plays and help the team win."
You can access complete stats for the Titans Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis, Will Levis
RBs: Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Colton Dowell, Chris Moore, Kyle Philips
TEs: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Josh Whyle, Trevon Wesco
Washington CommandersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 4 October 2022
Washington traded two draft picks to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason -- a second-rounder in 2022 and a conditional pick in 2023 that likely will be a second-rounder -- to acquire Carson Wentz.
In the season opener, he threw four touchdown passes in a 28-22 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He tossed three touchdowns the following week in the second half of a 36-27 loss at the Detroit Lions.
Over the past two games, Washington's offense has managed just 18 total points, as Wentz has thrown one touchdown and two interceptions and has lost a fumble.
He has been sacked 11 times in those defeats and an NFL-high 17 times for the season.
He had a combined QBR of 54.6 in the first two games and 13.3 in the second two. The line issues have led to protection problems -- compounded if he doesn't throw to his first or second read -- and, therefore, a struggling passing game. Wentz is averaging 6.04 yards per pass attempt, the second lowest of his career.
According to Next Gen Stats, Wentz's time to throw has decreased each start from 3.14 seconds against Jacksonville to 2.92 against Detroit, 2.6 against Philadelphia and 2.58 against Dallas. In the aftermath of a 25-10 loss to the Cowboys, Rivera cited injuries along the line and a lack of run-pass balance as reasons for the struggles.
"As soon as we got into the situation where you are going to have to throw the ball, (Cowboys pass rushers) could pin their ears back and pull a little bit more pressure," Rivera said Monday. "We can't put ourselves in a hole, getting into those second-and-longs, third-and-longs because it plays into what their strength is."
"I'd love to be able to have somebody up out there protecting him because that'll help prop him up," Rivera said of Wentz. "That'll give him a chance to get the ball to the playmakers that we have. It kind of works hand in hand, that if you don't have the protection -- he doesn't have the protection -- his numbers have dropped."
With pass protection looking like a major weakness, there has already been one personnel change with Saahdiq Charles replacing veteran Trai Turner at right guard. Rivera said Turner, who made the Pro Bowl five times while playing for him with Carolina, was banged up and that Charles would start Sunday against Tennessee.
"We'll continue to work with Trai ... and get him ready to play just in case," Rivera said. "In the meantime, we'll continue to try and develop that running game."
Developing the running game has been a challenge, and Rivera chalked part of that up to a revolving door at center. Starter Chase Roullier landed on injured reserve, replacement Wes Schweitzer was concussed, and after Nick Martin started against the Cowboys, Tyler Larsen -- fresh off the physically unable to perform list -- could be the fourth player at the position in five games.
Getting rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. in for his pro debut could be a nice boost, whenever he's ready to return after being shot in an attempted robbery Aug. 28. But there's still the matter of Wentz holding onto the ball too long, a known issue in recent years that has hurt Washington.
"When you do see him go through his progressions, you see almost to the point where by the time he gets to that second or third, he's under duress," Rivera said. "And a lot of times you'd love to be able to say, 'Hey, if you haven't thrown it by your first one, you get to your second one, you've got to be ready to deliver it.' I think that's something he'll learn and get comfortable with over time, and hopefully it's a short period of time."
The Commanders have punted more than any other team in the league, but at least Tress Way has been able to average almost 49 yards an attempt to flip the field.
The offense isn't the only problem.
Washington's defense continues to allow big plays, which is a problem with Derrick Henry and the Titans coming to town this weekend. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As noted above, Robinson is eligible to come off the non-football injury list this week and Rivera confirmed that the team will start the clock on his return to the active roster on Monday. That became official on Wednesday, when the team announced the rookie has been designated to return to practice.
Robinson has been recovering from a pair of gunshot wounds he suffered during an attempt to rob him and all reports about that recovery have been positive. Robinson can practice for three weeks before the Commanders have to activate him or shut him down for the year and Rivera said that there's a chance Robinson will get on the field against the Titans in Week 5.
"Hopefully it's a nice shot in the arm and hopefully we get what we're expecting to and that it's another quality running back we're looking for," Rivera said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. "We have to be smart how we handle him and we have to handle those expectations and handle what he's going through physically and mentally. It's a different set of circumstances. I don't know of any other player I've coached that's had to go through this."
Robinson was a third-round pick this year and was on track for a significant role in the team's offense before the late August shooting.
While Robinson could play as soon as Sunday, Rivera expects rookie receiver Jahan Dotson to miss a game or two with a hamstring injury. Pass rusher Chase Young remains out while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL.
In addition, Curtis Samuel was not at practice Wednesday due to what Keim characterized as a non-COVID illness.
I'll follow up on Samuel, Dotson and Robinson via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant. ...
You can access complete stats for the Commanders Week 4 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett
RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Jonathan Williams, Antonio Gibson, Chris Rodriguez
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Dax Milne, Byron Pringle, Mitchell Tinsley
TEs: Logan Thomas, Cole Turner, John Bates